Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Georgian Mistake

That’s not my phrase, it comes from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. He used it in a minatory fashion, to describe the behavior which would tend to evoke a response from Russia resembling recent actions against the Georgians in South Ossetia.

He was addressing the nation of Moldova, which is in the midst of a long-term crisis with its own breakaway region, Transdniestria. The Russians consider themselves to be the protectors of Transdniestria; hence Mr. Medvedev’s warning to the Moldovans.

Transdniestria map

Transdniestria or Transnistria is a narrow sliver of territory lying north of the Dniester but within the boundaries of Moldova. It is somewhat ethnically distinct — roughly a third of the population is ethnically Russian, another third Ukrainian, and the remaining third Moldovan, i.e. Romanian.

Even during the Soviet period, strong tensions existed between Transdniestria and the rest of Moldova (then called the Moldavian S.S.R.). Late in 1991, while the U.S.S.R. was still nominally extant, a war broke out between the central government in Chisinau and the separatists across the Dniester. Russian and Ukrainian volunteers arrived in Transdniestria to help the would-be nation, but it never achieved official international recognition after the Soviet Union disintegrated. It has gained extensive autonomy, but remains legally a part of the nation of Moldova.

Flush with their success in Georgia, the Russians are now flexing their Slavic muscles towards Moldova. According to Reuters.

Russia Warns Moldova Against “Georgian Mistake”

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned ex-Soviet Moldova on Monday against repeating Georgia’s mistake of trying to use force to seize back control of a breakaway region.

Russia sent peacekeepers to Moldova in the early 1990s to end a conflict between Chisinau and its breakaway Transdniestria region and is trying to mediate a deal between the two sides.

Transdniestria, one of a number of “frozen conflicts” on the territory of the former Soviet Union, mirrored the standoff between Georgia and its rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia until they erupted in war earlier this month.

Russia sent troops to Georgia to crush Tbilisi’s military push into South Ossetia and Moscow says Georgia has now lost the chance of ever re-integrating the breakaway provinces.

“After the Georgian leadership lost their marbles, as they say, all the problems got worse and a military conflict erupted,” Medvedev told Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin.
- - - - - - - - -
“This is a serious warning, a warning to all,” he added. “And I believe we should handle other existing conflicts in this context.”

As the two leaders spoke in Medvedev’s Black Sea residence in Sochi, Russian lawmakers were voting non-binding resolutions urging the Kremlin to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

Before Slavophile readers get all dreamy-eyed about the freedom-fighters of the Dniester, you might want to consider the coat of arms and flag of Transdniestria:

Transdniestria flag

The Russian Republic may have transcended its Soviet past, but Transdniestria appears to be wallowing in nostalgia for the days of the commissars.

Russia’s claim to Transdniestria is tenuous at best. In recent years it has followed the Ossetian playbook in the region, issuing Russian passports in generous numbers to Transdniestrians so that it may act to “protect” them when the moment is right.

Russia doesn’t share a border with Transdniestria (or Moldova): Ukraine lies in between. Not everyone considers this an obstacle; there are many Russians who consider Ukraine to be a rightful Russian province which just happens to be in a state of rebellion, and has been for the last seventeen years.

But Ukrainians don’t agree. If you do not consider those Transdniestrian Ukrainians to be Russians, then Russia has at best a third of a voting share in the affairs of Transdniestria.

The situation in Moldova will bear watching over the next few months while the world is preoccupied with the advent of the Messiah election season in the USA.

Hat tip: Abu Elvis.


laine said...

Why should we suddenly believe the MSM that Russia has played like a fiddle on the Georgia issue when it routinely reports everything else wrong. Russia has been and remains the leftists' wet dream.

Michael Totten's observations should be taken as a corrective anytime one is tempted to believe the Pravda type of reporting that has spread worldwide.

blogagog said...

I was under the impression that Moldova was hardcore communist like the old USSR. Was I misled?

Anonymous said...

Now, I may not know much about this whole situation, but don't believe what Michael Totten says on it. He lost all credibility with me after what he's written on the Balkans (complete utter lies).

Amphiaraos said...

The official name of the ruling party in Moldova is Partidul Comunistilor din Republica Moldova - which, mot à mot, translates as the Party of the Communists from the Moldova Republic. The official emblem of the Party is the hammer and sickle - in other words, exactly the same as on the flag of Transnistria. Vladimir Nikolaevich Voronin, First Secretary of the Party and President of the Republic of Moldova, was a Soviet-era apparatchik, and is thus a far cry from western-educated, western-minded and westward-looking Saakashvili. In spite of the past conflict in Transnistria and Russia's warning, it would be almost out of the question for Voronin even to think about taking military action against the breakaway region.

Amphiaraos said...

And another thing: the name "Moldova" for the land that lies between the Prut and the Nistru (Dniester) is in fact a misnomer, an entirely Soviet invention: the name Republica Sovietica Socialista Moldoveneasca (or Moldavskaja Sovetskaja Sotsialisticheskaja Respublika) was given to Basarabia after the USSR annexed it from Romania. Historically, Basarabia (or Bessarabia) was a province of the Principality of Moldova (or Moldavia, to give it its Latin name). Moldova itself, with the exception of northern Bukowina and Hertza (now in the Ukraine), lies entirely within the borders of modern-day Romania.

Amphiaraos said...

It should also be noted that the region to the east of Basarabia, on the other side of the Nistru, was only ever (a tenuous) part of the Principality of Moldova for about a hundred years, until the latter half of the eighteenth century, having previously been in the Lithuanian and then Polish spheres of influence. From 1792, it was part of the Russian Empire. Unlike Basarabia, it was not part of Greater Romania, created in 1918. In 1924, it became the Republica Autonoma Socialista Sovietica Moldoveneasca, in spite of never having been "Moldova" historically. However, this was part of the Soviet plan eventually to absorb the whole of Basarabia, which had been annexed by the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. After the Soviet takeover, Basarabia was merged with the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Diamed said...

Why not just let the people decide what country they want to belong to, or if they want to make a new one. Who does it harm to be free? Apparently transniestria has been basically independent since 1990, they've never harmed anyone, why don't they deserve freedom if East Timor and Eritrea can get theirs?

Again this constant desire to control others and keep together multi-ethnic empires by force after consent is gone is nothing but imperialism and should've been left behind in the 20th century where it belongs. If the ukrainian transniestrians wish to belong to ukraine, then you could just split transniestria in 2, or 3 parts, or however many until everyone's happy and homogeneous. The ancient city states of greece couldn't have been more than a 100,000 people each and they governed themselves just fine.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Natalie, I don't think you should dismiss Totten that rashly. He does something that MSM has all but forgotten, he provides ample details from the situation on the ground.

That, in turn, permits the reader to judge if the conclusions he draws make sense or not, to learn from articles where we may disagree on the conclusion.

Like the Balkans pieces, which I read with interest, noting that Totten doesn't have the depth of understanding of Islam to understand the significance of Saudi-funded mosques in Kosovo and Bosnia.

In the West, we have produced a lot of empty rhetoric and grandstanding without really understanding the details of what goes on. That's not useful.

Baron's observation that having the US busy with selecting a White House successor of equal incompetence as the incumbent president produces a void filled by realpolitik powerplay by others.

Amphiaraos said...

The ruling Moldavian Communist Party has expressed a desire for Moldova to join the EU. It would be a mistake to interpret this as evidence of a pro-western orientation, as is the case in Georgia. The fact is that the economy of Moldova is almost entirely reliant on the money sent back home by those "plecati la munca" - economic migrants to the West, mostly employed without official documents. Something like half the adult workforce is working abroad (one of the effects of this is an entire generation of children growing up with only one parent, and a significant number having to fend for themselves because both parents have left to work abroad). EU membership would thus make it easier for Moldavian citizens to travel and work in Western Europe, and prevent the economy collapsing altogether.

Henrik R Clausen said...

The ruling Moldavian Communist Party has expressed a desire for Moldova to join the EU.

Heh. Anyone suprised here?

Defiant Lion said...

Totten's article is a nonsense. He makes no mention whatsoever as to the west's total distregarding of international law in Iraq and especially in Kosovo that has led to this. He even refers to Karadzic as a nationalist war criminal. Based on what evidence I wonder? Credibility shot after that slur I'm afraid.

He also fails tomention Saakashvilis US educated backgroud, CIA involvement in the Rose Revolution and conveniently states that Russia started the war on the 6th August after the Georgians had repeatedly stated that they were worried. How come the Georgian leaders didn't pounce on this - their US sponsors would've had a field day with this and yet they've said nothing.

So worried were the Georgians they sent troops to Iraq. So worried the US never raised this with the Russians and warned the Russians they woud support Georgia and so worried that Saakashvili bombed his own people in Tskhinvali. Well what else would you do if your nation has been attacked?

Nor does he mention that Sky News and Reuters have - once again - been staging scenes and using misleading captions to present a false pro-Georgian stance.E.g. Portraying the Georgian bombing of Tskhinvali as the Russians bombing Gori.

Details over at the Byzantine Sacred Art Blog should you want them.

Nor does he point the finger of blame where it should point: At the west and especially the United States and NATO.

As ever, the respected Srdja Trifkovic provides a much more reasoned and detailed commentary:

Georgia: The Score

What is not being asked here is:

Russia is clearly acting in its own interests here due to what is happening on its own doorstep. But whose interests are the US and NATO acting in? Certainly not Georgia's that's for sure.

With the circus in the USA offering a choice between 1 of two clowns for the electorate, the incompetence of the US on the International stage looks set to continue.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Defiant Lion, the Totten article isn't 'nonsense'. It provides a lot of operational details, and reveals that the operation was not only prepared by Russia, it was initated by Russia. That's significant, something I did not see before.

There's also a crucial point of propaganda war in there. I'll quote:

"The peacekeepers had a military objective, and the first rule of warfare when you're talking to the media is not to reveal to your enemy what you're going to do. So they weren't going to blather into a microphone and say well, actually, I'm trying to go through Tskhinvali in order to stop the Russians. So what did he say instead? I'm here to restore constitutional order in South Ossetia. And that's it. With that, Georgia lost the propaganda war and the world believes Saakashvili started it.

Honesty is widely appreciated (outside the Islamic world at least), and playing games of deception like this, which used to be common sense concerning military operations, suddenly become self-defeating. I'll quote from an old holy book:

You shall not bear false witness

That stands stronger than ever.

Yes, there's a lot of relevant details omitted from that article. Others provide that, and this is as it should be. Trifkovic provides those details of American provocations I've been talking about before. My favorite line is this understatement:

We would be on the verge of world war if Russia dared to enter the American Great Lakes with warships.

We are overextending ourselves by declaring the Caucasus to be 'Western sphere of influence'. I think Bush has been trapped into this for quite a while, through the 'Rose Revolution', and this is a logical outcome.

Unfortunately, instead of responsing in sensible ways, our leaders are preoccupied upholding the pretense of competence.

Henrik R Clausen said...

From UK Column, some interesting info about the encirclement of Russia (we have a LOT of naval power in the Black Sea right now), and the problem of Crimea, which is likely to be the next hot potato:

The Encirclement of Russia Continues

While I know we are supposed to celebrate the military assertiveness of our brave forces against the 'evil' Russians, I'm not sure that this aggressive stance serves us well eventually.

eatyourbeans said...

From the point of view of this "very old war", would the restoration of a great, assertive and Orthodox Russia necessarily and inevitably be a bad thing?
We need to get the answer to that one right.

Defiant Lion said...


"Defiant Lion, the Totten article isn't 'nonsense'. It provides a lot of operational details, and reveals that the operation was not only prepared by Russia, it was initated by Russia. That's significant, something I did not see before."

I didn't see any proof. And the media - who are on Georgia's side aren't saying this, even the BBC says Russia responded to Georgia's attack.

This "you started it first" line is moot anyway. Because the US and NATO didn't give a toos about who started the war in Yugoslavia, they just piled in demonised the Serbs and then bombed the crap out Serbia. Yet Serbia didn't start the war nor did they commit the war crimes they have been accused of.

Another accusation Totten falls over to make. Well he would wouldn't he, proving that truth is irrelevant to him.

But this lie simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny for reasons I gave and you conveniently ignore.

That the Georgians bombed Tshkinvali is a dead giveaway and a collosal blunder made by an incompetant US puppet who runs a police state. No mention of that either. I wonder why?

And please don't ever patronise me with such tripe as "You Shall Not Bear False Witness" and other such biblical tosh.

If you want to question false witnesses aim your pious wrath at those who deserve it, mainly the US and its lickspittles who are guilty of the most vommit inducing hypocrisy.

As well as white-washing themselves of any blame, yet is is the US drive for global hegemony that is the root cause of this mess.

heroyalwhyness said...

Wikipedia (I know, I know, sigh) states the following about Transnistria:

The ethnic composition of the region has not been stable in the recent history, with the most notable change being the decrease of the Moldovan ethnic population and increase of the Russian.

Curiously similar to the situation in Georgia. . .yes?

Henrik R Clausen said...

I didn't see any proof.

Which is not exactly what we're looking for, anyway. What we do get is a lot of practical details that could, in principle, be disproven if they are wrong. That is a solid approach, as it shifts the burden to prove it false elsewhere.

Take it easy. We've been rehashing this stuff a few times, and while the MSM has been stuck at the upper, fascist-style superficiality, we've been able to dig significantly deeper, and are well aware (as in my comment above and elsewhere) that the West played a significant role in bringing about the crisis in the first place.

Now more details are coming out, from Totten, Trifkovic and others, so we're able to understand things still better. But it becomes more complex and less trivial for each layer we dig into.

I still think our leaders are mainly preoccupied with upholding a pretense of competence.

When I revert to "Biblical tosh", it's because it's about the only moral principle I still see standing in this mess...

Afonso Henriques said...

"Before Slavophile readers get all dreamy-eyed"

Well, I don't know much but I think you are wrong...

1st) Moldova + Transinstria should never have been Sovietic, that and Western Ukraine were no "Russian Traditional Territory".

2nd) Moldova is Romania. Back in the XIX century, when the Balans were fighting the Turks once for all, Romania came to exist with the union of the provinces of Valachia (Bucareste region) and Moldova. Both were inhabited by Romanians. Then Romania magically anexxated Hungary's Transilvania and became a little too powerfull in my opinion.

3rd) During the Cold War, Romanians were the "black lamb" of Comunism. They had grown harsh feelings against Russians.

4th) After the fall of the Berlin wall, Moldova could join Romania.

5th)But they did not and got a little (or more) wanna be emperors as leaders...

6th) Transnistria in inhabited by Eastern Slavs (Russians) and has a big river as a border. That is usually the border between the Slavic-Russian world and the lat... well, Balkanic world.

7th) Those Transnistrian symbols do not mean a thing. Their only reason to be there is because there was no more Universal way to say: We hate Romanians!

Let's get Moldava join Romania and Transnistria join Russia...

Then the Romanians of Transnistria could start a new life in Great Romania, the Russians would have another Kalinegrad and we all would be happier.

Only I think that Romanians then, would be to powerfull without the merit. Like the Poles...

Afonso Henriques said...


maybe you are right. Probabily, Moldávia is already in Romania and the Moldovan State is nothing less than Bessarabia.

Nonetheless, my thesis is the same:

Bessarabia was annexed by the Communist hordes that had highjacked the great Russian Nation. Bessarabia has been Romanian, inhabited by Romanians and thus traditional Romanian territor still inhabited by Romanians. That River Dniepre or Dniester was the border between the East Slavic-Russian world and lat... well, and the Balkan's world.

The case is, as usually, BOGUS NATIONS created by COMMUNISTS!
That's the same problem as Georgia, old stupid Communist bogus borders and an idiot wanna-be emperor like Saakashvili.

In thirty years, it may be time for Germany to wake up and then it may be a big problem. Especially if France is fighting it's non-European population. Germany, who knows, even Switzerland may be tempted to join. The real problem would became when Germany looks East.

Croatia, Czech Republic and Poland already live on German investments...

Diamed, I will get to you in a minute...

Avery Bullard said...

Before Slavophile readers get all dreamy-eyed about the freedom-fighters of the Dniester, you might want to consider the coat of arms and flag of Transdniestria

Western Cultural Marxism is far worse than the old fashioned bureaucratic communism represented by the hammer & sickle. In the old Soviet bloc they still act like normal patriotic human beings whereas in the culturally Marxist countries of the American 'empire' we believe in so-called multiculturalism, cultural relativism, maladaptive feminism and homosexualism.

I could just as easily say the Stars and Stripes flag stands for liberal rebellion against the conservative order (1770s) or Frankfurt School theory which America forced on post-war German society. That would be unfair to those who proudly fly Old Glory who are unaware of how the US spreads cultural Marxism throughout the world. For all we know the Soviet flag is merely reactive towards ethnic Romanian nationalism.

Avery Bullard said...

laine: Michael Totten's observations should be taken as a corrective anytime one is tempted to believe the Pravda type of reporting that has spread worldwide.

Ha ha! We have a comedian.

Totten is the darling of the neocons whose philosophical roots go back to Leon Trotsky (If you don't know who he was please Google the name!). His travelogues are exactly like Pravda articles of old.

Funny how no matter where he goes his preconceived notion that the US always backs the good guys in any conflict is always borne out. In Georgia most of his sources are paid by the Georgian government! To Totten US allies = Good. Those negatively affected by US policies = Evil. If I'd been running Pravda back in Soviet times Totten is exactly the kind of hack I would've hired.

Defiant Lion said...


"Which is not exactly what we're looking for, anyway."

So don't mention it then.

What really annoyed me about Totten's heavily biased article boils down to 2 things.

1. His branding of Karadic as a "nationalist war criminal". This demonisation of the Serbs is shameful, all to justify the criminal bombing of Serbia and supporting the Albanians. All based on pure lies. As was Iraq. And the US condemns Russia's "disproportionate response"?

2. What he doesn't say about Georgia, Saakashvili and the US involvement. It is nothing more than a piece of pro-US propoganda and as such is nonsense.

The US and its allies are anything but the good guys. Not only in this crisis but also in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. If we really do want honesty, and Henrik,I will credit you as being one of the main commenters here who is genuinely debating to discover the truth, then we have to start asking some pretty searching questions about what on earth the US and NATO are doing around the globe.

Because much of it is bloody criminal on a par with the worst war crimes in history.

Afonso Henriques said...


"why don't they deserve freedom if East Timor and Eritrea can get theirs?"

Well, Transnistra is not a Nation and Timor is.

"this constant desire to control others and keep together multi-ethnic empires by force after consent is gone is nothing but imperialism"

Yes indeed. But, your concept of self-determination available to everryone who shouts: "Nation!" is utterly stupid.

Don't get me wrong but we had a mad man recently who was able to unite a small grup of homeless and make the homeless proclaim him "Prince of Fuseta". He gave food to the homeless so that they would do such. And when I mean small, I mean 5 to 15.

Fuseta is an Island in the cost of Algarve in a Natural Park. One of many islands. It is about half the size that island you Americans have when a European immigrates to New York, that one with the Lady Liberty... The Mad Man wanted to make a small State like Monaco, called "Principality of Fuseta". This is mad and is in line of what you're saying...

A Nation needs to be formed before someone can consider to grant independence to an independent State. And even if there is a Nation, we must check its legimity. It is wrong for us to have Kosovos.

I am all for Transnistra because it is a small fraction of the Traditional Russian Nation. I am all against Moldova because it is a fraction of the "Traditional" Romenian Nation.

Simple as that.

"then you could just split transniestria in 2, or 3 parts, or however many until everyone's happy and homogeneous."

No you can't. And also, your example of the Greek City States is a bad one. Why? Well, what the Greeks called Greek Civilisation was in fact the Greek Nation. And the result is that those city states, instead of being work for the sake of the Nation (like the American States) were starting unnecessary Civil Wars here and there all the time.

When Athens and Sparta fought, they took virtually all the Greek Nation/Civilisation to a war just like the First World War.

Why? Why couldn't Sparta continue to be Aristocratic and Athens Democratic and working both for the sake of their common Nation? Why lead everybody to a cataclystic war that would give origin to Alexandre Magno and the Roman anexation of Greece?

Due to a crazy sense of self-determination (in part). And if it were not the Altruistic Nationalism of the Spartan Leónidas, there would be no Greece to talk about. Xerxes would have conquered it all...

Leónidas was a Greek Nationalist, not an obssessed with self-determination.

Afonso Henriques said...

Henrik, I am not sure if it was you who mentioned "Prava like media" but maybe you could for sure lay an eye on "Pravda like" Russia Today's intreview with the deposed Georgian President, Sheverdnadze:


"And what I am saying now, I'm going to say for the first time. Georgia is a civilised country, but in its history there were times when it had to sell its children on the Istanbul markets - they were then taken to Egypt. And it was not only boys, but girls too. Their mothers tried to convince them how sweet their lives would be there.

When the Russians came, they banned this slavery. And I can't but say this - that the Russians actually saved Georgia. Why is it, that today America is the only country who has influence on Georgian politics? Do they really need to put us at war with Ossetia? It's logically not right. It was our leaders' decision to do all this aggression. It was exclusively the decision of the Georgian state. And I believe we made a mistake, a very serious mistake."

Eduard Sheverdnadze, the former Georgian President.

To read that article with that images... especially "I am Georgia - Fourth Century of Resistance" is sickening.

I have not read it, I will now, but that has already "shaken" the man's credibility in my eyes.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Afonso, for record it wasn't me with "Pravda like".

But as for Totten, we can't summarily dismiss what he has. I'll elaborate:

He has a primary source. It's Georgian, and fully credited. His source provides ample detail on the ground, which is valuable and better than anything MSM comes up with.

There is no reason to discount it solely on the base of it being Georgian. Neither should we discount sources merely because they're Russian. Both are needed to form a complete picture.

Neither can be trusted on face value, but have to be evaluated for credibility. For that, the first thing I look for is facts, stuff that can be verified or falsified. The source exposes himself to scrutiny by bringing many of these, and if the details turn out to be false, the source will have his credibility damaged.

Another thing to look for is details that bear little significance to the overall story, but which are there anyway. Such details are rarely made up, easily falsified if they are, and thus bring additional credibility to the overall story.

The Totten article passes those criteria, no matter what worldview we might subscribe. We can't dismiss such a piece as 'propaganda'.

However, it doesn't provide a complete picture - and there's no reason it should. Details on the ground are good, but background, as Trifkovic provides, are as essential for a complete understanding of the situation.

Defiant Lion, I hope you are taking note of my endorsement of Trifkovic?

The role of NATO as a 'Global actor' is something I've written bits about before. The problem is that its mission is unclear, and has been ever since the USSR crumbled at the feet of its military power.

I've seen the headquarters, and I've noticed the little details in its self-presentation that have the intention of avoiding offending, well, a certain religion. NATO should not be perceived as being targeted in that direction, right...?

Obviously, we're in a pinch. If NATO would target itself squarly against our real challenge, we'd risk an oil boycott. [Skipping a favorite subject here :]

Thus our 'Great Leaders' prefer taunting Russia over doing what they should, had they the courage.

Diamed said...

Afonso: Basically you have two objections to small countries. A) that they can become too small and thus simply a lawless band of rogues rather than a serious state with the intent to self-govern and self-subsist.

B) That they promote civil war and weaken the common self defense.

Now as to A obviously 15 people can't make a country, however, just as obviously 50,000 people can. It's been done before many times through history and even in scattered islands around the world today. So it's somewhere between those numbers. Only trial and error will find the actual 'smallest possible state' and it probably also relies on the quality of the people in it. The amish for instance are a state within a state in America, and despite their small population they have managed to govern themselves, provide for themselves economically, etc. If they wanted to move to some corner of pennsylvania and declare independence, why shouldn't they be allowed to? What harm would they do us, except depriving us of the right to tax and control them? It's obviously a case of trial and error and social experimentation. We should allow people who have a reasonable chance of succeeding as an independent state, at least the chance to try it. If they become a failed state, they could always be reconquered later. Until then it's their right and it's hurting no one else that they're free. I don't see how Kosovo is a failed state and I'm hopeful for the future of Kosovo, East Timor, Montenegro, Ossetia, and Abhkhazia. I think small homogeneous countries are superior to large heterogeneous countries in terms of quality of life and 'accordance with human nature.' I think these are positive trends that have been going on for centuries ever since the breakup of the major empires starting in the 1800's.

As for B, the nuclear weapon has rendered large defensive alliances unnecessary. Anyone with nukes, or allied to a friend with nukes, is immune to attack no matter how small. The age of bullies is over. And it's not true that many small states cause an increase in war. There was a great deal more war in Europe when there were a few large states. Also for the last century or so, around 90% of all wars were internal wars where the country was too large and couldn't handle its diversity due to including too many different people in it. Get rid of the diversity, you'll get rid of the wars. 90% of them! Many small nations increases peace it doesn't detract from it. And though it's true the greek city states fought too often among themselves, you have to remember those city states lasted maybe a 1,000 years while our wretched empires are crumbling apart after just a couple hundred. Even small countries behaving badly are more secure and healthy than empires behaving well. One is like a noble gas, unreactive. The other is inherently unstable, like a single hydrogen atom, bound to interact with everything around it in eternal conflicts. Just look at the USA today.

Conservative Swede said...

There are no findings in Totten's article. It's main point is just a repetition of Saakashvili's own late-coming "rationalization", that the Russian troops entered first. This is what he has to say, for the sake of making propaganda war, but it's not credible. Not even Georgians in general seem to believe it.

I quote from the article
That evening, the 7th, the president gets information that a large Russian column is on the move. Later that evening, somebody sees those vehicles emerging from the Roki tunnel [into Georgia from Russia]...
If they could stop the Russians there, they would be stuck in the tunnel and they couldn't send the rest of their army through. So they did two things. The first thing they did, and it happened at roughly the same time, they tried to get through [South Ossetian capital] Tskhinvali, and that's when everybody says Saakashvili started the war. It wasn't about taking Ossetia back, it was about fighting their way through that town to get onto that road to slow the Russian advance.

So Saakashvili just very innocently happened to pass through Tskhinvali on the way to the Roki tunnel?

How come
then that they declared that their goal was to finish "a criminal regime"? How do you do that by just happening to passing through the capital city of the region unintentionally?

How come then that Georgia almost immediately declared that "its forces had surrounded the capital of the breakaway region", and that "eight South Ossetian villages had already been captured", if their aim was just to pass through to get to the Roki tunnel?

And how come nothing is mentioned about the entry of Russian troops at all at this point? It's only much later that Saakashvili decided to tell the story in this way. Credible? Not very.

Furthermore on their way, just passing by Tskhinvali, on their way to stop alleged Russian troops in the Roki tunnel (a reason for their actions that they never thought of bringing up until weeks later), they just happened to bombard Tskhinvali with rockets from Georgia leaving the city in ruins, causing a humanitarian crisis.

Conservative Swede said...


Thanks for linking the interview with Eduard Shevardnadze. Very interesting. I hope everybody reads/watches it.

Russia Today is doing a great job in covering the conflict from all sorts of perspectives.

Anonymous said...

Well Henrik, I still disagree. I personally do not care for Michael Totten's view on most issues--I've actually never read something of his I agreed with (but I have not read every single thing he has written). I think part of our difference on this comes from our viewpoints about the Balkans. I have read some of your comments and we do have some differences in our views.

On a different note, I find it interesting that Conservative Swede praised Russia Today. I have heard of them, of course, and I always thought they were pretty decent. It is significant that they are often accused of being biased and pro-Kremlin by our Western media, which is ironic, considering how biased our media is.

Afonso, I used to disagree with you on Russia but recently I have found myself agreeing with you. I seem to have shifted in my views...

laine said...

"We would be on the verge of world war if Russia dared to enter the American Great Lakes with warships".

This is a completely invalid comparison. There would be no nations begging Russia's help against America's constant threats to invade after a history in which America did invade and killed off 10% of the population of said nations and imprisoned the survivors behind an Iron Curtain for decades.

I am just amazed at the historical amnesia demonstrated by several posters on this site regarding Russia's history as the greatest invading and mass murdering nation within living history and taking seriously the idea that a mouse like Georgia was attacking the poor Russians. The same people who reason that Russia has some kind of right to buffer states on its border would never countenance a strip off Canada to the north and Mexico to the south to keep the USA feeling secure.

Talk about blood for oil. Georgian blood was spilled for oil as Putin works to prevent any oil pipeline that he cannot choke off to keep Europe on a short leash.

The good news is that the bear got its paw slapped $12 B worth by the markets as outlined in the Syria thread above. Investors cannot be held down at the point of a gun.

Incidentally, I didn't say Totten was the word of God. I said there was no reason to believe the MSM on this issue considering their terrible record and that Totten's take contradicts it. As far as his credibility, I've heard very good things about him and certainly he gave a more balanced picture of the goings on in Iraq. I don't know his take on Kosovo.

pasta said...


"If they [the Amish] wanted to move to some corner of pennsylvania and declare independence, why shouldn't they be allowed to?"

There is always the problem of finding such a corner, good enough for founding a state in, with no people, who don't want to become part of the new state, already living in it and with all land owners willing to sell their land to your group (in this case, the Amish). As such an ideal arrangement can hardly ever be achieved in the real world, the US government would have to withdraw protection for some of its citizens against their will and they would need a good reason for doing that.

Henrik R Clausen said...

For those upset about the Totten piece, here's some counterbalance from Byzantine Sacred Arts Blog.

It's Putin detailing that American soldiers were taking part in the hostilities. Interestingly, CNN whitewashes this to 'citizens' in the translation. You just can't trust MSM...

Afonso Henriques said...


"There is no reason to discount it solely on the base of it being Georgian. Neither should we discount sources merely because they're Russian. Both are needed to form a complete picture."

I cannot agree more. But... are you sure the man is Georgian? I thought he was an American... maybe he is an American of Georgian descent.

Henrik, sorry for blaming you on the "Pravda like" thing. I liked your comment and I always (or whenever it's possible) try to do that.

Afonso Henriques said...

"Russia Today is doing a great job in covering the conflict from all sorts of perspectives."

Is it not?

I've been without CNN, Sky and BBC World for 6 or 10 months, but from You Tube and casual sighting of it, British/American media has been doing a terrble job. And we even have to hear one or another shouting "Pravda like Media!"... as if...

But for what I've seen, Portuguese RTP and SIC, Spanish TVE and French TV5 and 24 hours, Russia Today is undoubtedly the best.

Afonso Henriques said...

"Afonso, I used to disagree with you on Russia but recently I have found myself agreeing with you. I seem to have shifted in my views..."

Nice to know Natalie.



"taking seriously the idea that a mouse like Georgia was attacking the poor Russians."

It was not the poor Russians, it was the poor Ossetians. Saakashvili is like that coward little bully who loves to beat little boys but goes running to his mother when someone stands up to him. That's the beauty of this conflict, if there's any.

"The same people who reason that Russia has some kind of right to buffer states on its border would never countenance a strip off Canada to the north and Mexico to the south to keep the USA feeling secure."

I thought it was called N-A-F-T-A!
Get serious!

You America can't even deal with Mexico! Look to La Raza! Look to what they are doing to the South-West and, I am a good source, do you know what is the secret desire of a every men in a Latin American impoverished Nation with 100 millions non-whites who worship Che Guevara?

Answer: Gringo blood! If America lifts its proctectorate over Mexico, you'll see what will happen to the American-friendly Mexican elites. Venezuela is a good example, Colombia will follow soon, just wait for the next elections.

You don't have idea the monster you are feeding in Latin America.

Afonso Henriques said...


I do not object to small countries.
I object to non Nation-States (as I think you do. So, I think the main problem here is the defenition of a Nation).

I don't believe a Nation can be easily created. For instance, some say that there is a red America and a blue America and that this may lead to a civil war. If that is the case, then, maybe we could create a Red American Nation (American Nation, what an oxymoron) and a Blue American Nation out of the old American Nation.

There is a small country in Europe: Actually, in Italy: San Marino. I am all for San Marino due to its particular History and because San Marino is itself (how contradictory!) a tribute to the unified Italian Nation.

But... Lichtenstein? Mónaco? Andorra? With the hell with that!
There's no Nation behinde. And though Andorra can bo considered the Free Land of Catalonia... it is not.

The problem between we both is that concept: A Nation. For you, a Nation is a group of people willing to live together, for me, it's much more.

Your concept of Nation sounds to me more like a unnatural "Social Contract", like those early Communist experiments in America.

For instance, if I say to you that Austria is not and never has been a Nation, will you agree/understand?

Afonso Henriques said...

Concerning the article,

"He made stupid declarations like Georgia is only for the Georgians."

So, I guess that with such an inclusive name and with more than 80% of Georgians being ethnic Georgians, it was a stupid state.
The problem with those little stripe of men, he and Martin Luther King, is that a significative part of humanity does not like to be enslaved, like Malcolm X.

"There was a civil war between Georgians and Tbilisi."

Of course, there were the Georgians and there were one or ten guys in Tiblissi. Tblissi had no support whatsoever, all the Georgians were against Civilians...

This is worst than the white washed French:
"There were no French Nazis, there were many who were freedom fighters"
Yeah, right!

The funny thing is that actually Saakashvili wanted to bring the body of Ghramyakurdia from Grozny to Tblissi. I've done my homework too.

" [South Ossetian “President” Eduard] Kokoity himself is a former wrestler and a former bodyguard who was promoted to the presidency by powerful Ossetian families as their puppet."

It seems like a Caucasian tradition. Maybe it was a coloured Revolution what!? Say that again! Ah, so, for a coloured Revolution to be branded Coloured Revolutíon, the puppet has to be an American puppet!? Ok, got that, bye.

"they took all the civilians out of their villages"

Yeah, I guess the Ossetian women, elder and children some of us have saw on TV were Russian photoshop.

"Georgia is a multi-ethnic republic. And the whole point of the Ossetian ethnic question is this: South Ossetia is part of Georgia."

I smell imperialism...

Well I did not liked it, it was biased and with as much truth as lyes.

Diamed said...

@Afonso: Nation to you equals shared history and ancestry, maybe with a shared language and culture thrown in?

I don't think it's necessary to have all that to form a unified country. America was fine when it had germans, french, british, dutch, swedes, irish, italians, and poles. We didn't have a shared history, ancestry, language or culture! What we did have is a shared race and a shared ideal. I think those are the two building blocks to a successful country. Switzerland is another great example. Germans, French, Italian, Swiss, four different languages, but still stable and peaceful. They share the same race and ideals (or at least used to) and thus were a great success for 500 years.

@pasta: The government has the right to confiscate land with due compensation. I assume the amish would pay the government, the government would pay the people displaced, and everyone would be more or less happy. The average American moves every 5 years and no one really puts down roots anywhere in our country. Moving again is no big deal and it would be compensated. A massive sorting of all the people in America would not be as devastating as people think. People are already moving all the time and it would just be one more move.