The Breathtaking Audacity of… Putin (and his American Apologists)

As someone who considers himself a liberal, and a definite supporter of freedom and independence for all people, I have been completely stunned by some of the statements coming out of certain American Left Wingers regarding the war in Georgia (including some old friends).  Somehow it seems to them that American’s crimes are so great as to cover the “lesser” crimes of Russian, and the hell to Georgia and its independence and its myriad refugees.


On the face of it this attitude is ridiculous, whatever its crimes during the current administration, American has not attempted to annex land in over 100 years, and are trusted in this way the world over.  Russia, on the other hand, clearly has always sought to add lands to its “empire” has never renounced its colonial past, and indeed has baldly admitted its desire to annex territory belonging to Georgia.

This disturbing liberal bias towards Russian and against Georgia is something I was able to ignore until yesterday morning, when I found an interview in the New York Times with Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich someone I have always respected and envied (e.g. Elizabeth Kuncinch)

“When Georgia moves against South Ossetia as the Olympics are starting, the Bush administration begins its own Olympics — the war Olympics… Look. Saakashvili had an American lobbyist who is now part of the McCain campaign, and I am sure he was given advice. The idea of striking during the Olympics would have to come out of Madison Avenue. We have to be able to see through this. And the one thing I have shown an ability to do is to cut through the b.s.”

Well even if this was a little bit true, Bush wants to strike at Iran, not Russia, and no President seeks three wars at the same time, particularly one with a vast nuclear arsenal.  No one wanted this war except for the Kremlin, and they wanted it mainly because it sent a message and was a “game changer” of sorts – in other words it established firmly that Russia itself took the right to exert control over its neighbor countries.  A Kremlin version of  the “Monroe Doctrine” you could say.

And in response what has the west done? Nothing much, talk mostly, and Putin could not be more pleased

Lets not forget that Russia is a country that bombed its own breakaway regions into annihilation and massacred tens of thousand of its own citizen in what has become know as one of the most bloodthirsty wars in recent decades (and that’s saying something).  They do what they do out of the belief in the unrestrained use of power, not out of hurt pride and misplaced honor.  They want our land, they might want your land, they want their empire back.

If you don’t get that, then you don’t understand very much about the world.  It isn’t all that complicated, remember Grozny?  No matter where you come politically, it was a brutal and stunningly ruthless military operation.

Continuing on this vein is an interesting article titled “The Rise of the Putin Doctrine” by Josef Joffe in Newsweek  While perhaps overly critical of President Saakashvili in his decision to go to war (while most Georgians believe it was a trap, they still think he had no choice but to protect the Georgian villages and policemen who were under fire) this is a very insightful article on what the Kremlin is really thinking and what its strategic plans really are.

My favorite line, particularly in light of the current war, “How could we think that Russia would stop being Russia? … you can listen to Aleksandr III, tsar from 1881 to 1894, who famously proclaimed, “Russia has only two reliable allies—its Army and Navy.”‘

All too true, and one of the main reasons why Russia habitually over-reaches when it seeks power and land (it has no friends to advise it to hold it back) and it is the paramount reason why these recent “episodes” in Georgia and Chechnya should not be excused or ignored.  Joffe goes on:

“Putin went back to “hard” power, using gas to cow his neighbors from the Baltics via Belarus to the Ukraine, and tanks to reconquer what he claims is rightfully his. Today, it is Georgia. What will it be tomorrow? … Those who have chastised Saakashvili for tweaking the bear are also pleading clemency for Putin. They invoke Russia’s humiliation in the cold war, the loss of its empire (14 out of 15 republics chose independence) and the forward march of NATO and the European Union across the former Iron Curtain. So what? Does this mean Russia has right to an empire? That its ex-vassals from the Baltic to Bulgaria have no right to autonomy and safety?”

Well said, couldn’t put it better myself.  What do you think of those apples Representative Kucinich?

From the Russian point of view, the Cold War II has just begun, and they are making no secret of it.  In today’s Los Angeles Times there was a front page article reported from Moscow with interviews with a number of prominent Russians.   Here’s the lead paragraph:

“MOSCOW — In this historic hub of expansion and empire, Russia’s military victory over U.S.-backed Georgia was cheered as evidence that Moscow has regained its global dominance — and proof that the rest of the world can’t risk standing in its way.”

Does that sound expasionist, imperial and domineering to you?  No?  Well, lets here what they think about this situation in their own words:

“There is no West anymore. It’s eroding and weakening,” said Sergei Karaganov of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a Moscow think tank. “We are feeling very strong, and we don’t trust anybody. Especially the United States.”

“I mean, who are these nations? Russia is probably stronger than any country in the G-8 except for the United States, and it has more credibility because it hasn’t killed hundreds of thousands of people recently,” he said. “It has won wars, and the other countries are losing them… If Ukraine joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” Karaganov said, “it will be seen as an act of belligerence.  Ukraine is the cradle of Russia, It’s more Russian than Russia.”

“As far as the Russian elite is concerned, it’s another very important step in Russia’s restoration of its position in the world,” Andrei Piontkovsky, a visiting fellow at Washington’s Hudson Institute, said in a telephone interview. “The public and government is so proud not only because they defeated Georgia, but because they humiliated and defeated their great geopolitical rival, the United States of America.”

Sounds like a call to arms to me.  Sound like the start of something very dangeous, very destructive and surprisingly, blantantly imperialist (and I thought imperialism was something you could find only in the history books).  Whatever happens next, I think it would had to argue that this is the end of the war between Russian and Georgia, and Russian and the west.

Just saying…

But hey, lets keep things simple.  There can only be one bad country in the world at a time, only one bad leader, and only one bad war.