Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 20, 2008

If the Russians were really bad ...

... what would NATO do about it?

Scenario (map):

In late fall 2010 Russian NGOs instigate a reverse color revolution in the Ukraine and a Russia friendly 'democratically elected' government takes over. There are attacks on Russian ethnics in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Some nasty pictures of these get played again and again in Russian and European media and lead to calls in Russia's State Duma for protection of these minorities.

Russia calls for a UN security council resolution to stop the atrocities against ethnic Russians. While China supports Russia, the 'western' powers veto any resolution.

On invitation from the Ukraine, Russia moves air defense systems and heavy artillery into the Ukraine. The Ukrainian and Russian governments put their armies under 'common' (Russian) command.

Under domestic pressure Russia's president sends a division of troops into each of the Baltic countries and the Russian navy to blockade their coasts. Estonia, and Latvia have 6,000 active troops each, Lithuania has some 18,000. After three days of unfair fights these local forces no longer exist.

There have been only relative few civilian casualties though. Russia declares it will respect the sovereign integrity of the three countries, but it will have to station peacekeeping forces there to prevent further atrocities. Fresh elections are announced for all three countries as their 'criminal governments' are under arrest.

'Technical difficulties' with pumping stations diminish Russian oil and gas supply to Europe by over 30%. The BTC pipeline gets sabotaged by PKK rebels in Turkey.

Meanwhile Serbia is again making loud noise about the Kosovo. Spain is in strife with its Basks who somehow have obtained RPG's and other heavier weapons. In Turkey the PKK suddenly gained access to anti-air assets and is on offenive in several areas. Mujaheddin in Afghanistan got hold of anti-air missiles form China.

Within a week $200 billion worth of U.S. treasuries and agency papers get dumped by some obscure Cayman Island funds into the financial markets. The dollar tanks, interest rates and oil prices jump.

End of the scenario.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are NATO countries. But what would NATO actually do if the above were to happen?

Will the U.S. plausibly threaten a nuclear strike on Russia and risk to lose New York, Washington and Denver over Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn? I for one doubt this.

Will NATO assemble a force that is capable and motivated to fight on the ground for those countries, a process that would likely destroy them?

The NATO Response Force consists of one brigade of land troops - some 4,000 soldiers from various countries. The bigger powers, U.S., UK, France, Germany currently have their most capable and deployable troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and on the Balkans.

It is thereby unlikely that NATO is able to immediately assemble a reaction force of some 10+ division that would be needed to liberate (and obliterate) the three Baltic countries by force. It would be able to do so, but it could take a six month to a year to get everything ready for a big attack and it would require to give up on Afghanistan or Iraq.

Meanwhile there is talk about a second Russian front against Romania to regain land access to its coreligionists in Serbia. Germany and Poland are freezing and have frequent blackouts.

I can imagine a lot of huffing and puffing in Washington and Brussels if the above would happen. There would be sanctions, resolutions and loud protests. But I can not imagine NATO to go to all out war over it.

Things would settle after a while, gas and oil return trade would continue, Russia would again buy treasuries.

If Russia is really as bad as some old and new cold warriors want to make us believe, the above scenario is indeed possible. But why then don't the call for preparation for such? Why then are they sending even more NATO troops to places that have no real strategic value like Afghanistan?

NATO is a paper tiger. The military folks know this. Most 'western' politicians know it too. But they will not do anything about it because they believe that Russia is no danger to them. Russia may be a danger to the Baltic countries, but the 'west' obviously does not care about that. It is not their problem.

People in the Baltic states should think about this when they make noise against Russia and Russian ethnics. They should think about it really hard.

Posted by b on August 20, 2008 at 09:33 AM | Permalink


NATO is a paper tiger.

Except for missiles. So the current strategy is to get the poor former satellite countries to take the bullet for the US.
So they demand some tactical missiles. Eventually we will get a showdown, with either Soviet buffer states restored, (the current version of missiles out of Cuba/Turkey)or we will get the all out nuclear war the neocons [Pretty equally divided the two divisions of the ONE ruling party- the Democrats and the Republicans] have ALWAYS claimed can be won, and MUST be fought to enable US primacy.

From the Washington Post (finally, a bit of truth):

Poland and the United States spent a year and a half negotiating, and talks recently had snagged on Poland's demands that the U.S. bolster Polish security with Patriot missiles in exchange for hosting the missile defense base.


The Patriots are meant to protect Poland from short-range missiles from neighbors _ such as Russia.

Posted by: erichwwk | Aug 20, 2008 10:08:06 AM | 1

In a Stunning Reversal...

In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

McCain leads Obama among likely U.S. voters by 46 percent to 41 percent, wiping out Obama's solid 7-point advantage in July and taking his first lead in the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll.

I'm afraid that the public may have intuitively grasped B's scenario and figures McCain may be the better man for circumstances where Imperial Dominance is threatened. Its sad to realize, and perhaps hard to notice of we spend too much time in anti-imperial blogs, but the American public **LIKES** empire. Some may prefer a kinder gentler one, more hidden from view. But they all want it.

That said, I'm not sure what McCain would do differently against a resurgent Russia other than perhaps annoy it more. But the public believes that with a tough guy like him in charge the Russians will "think twice" before trying something like the above.

More likely, they will think twice, thrice and conclude they have to take whatever necessary measures to defend will Iran. All that talk about Iran not really making nukes had better be wrong for their sake.

Posted by: Lysander | Aug 20, 2008 10:43:08 AM | 2

Well, I've seen this scenario on some other boards and the overall consensus, even with die-hard NATO US fans, was that Russia would be on the Polish-Romanian borders before NATO could mount any solid defence. And that is, even in the case of full-scale war, and even if Ukraine was pro-West and not a Russian buddy.
NATO probably won't go nuclear to defend Baltic states only - though this might massively undermine the EU (which the US wouldn't dislike actually). If Russia goes farther, though, and beyond former USSR' territory, things may change.
And of course, if Russia openly or secretly plays the energy card, this could be counter-productive and trigger a more massive and serious Western reaction. I think NATO/US would more likely threaten to use nukes if Russia were to cut all oil/gas to the West - which would mean a massive increase in energy costs for the US too - than if Russia merely sends its T-90 in Latvia.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 20, 2008 11:42:08 AM | 3

Nuclear warfare used to be unthinkable. But lately, it's become clear that there's profit opportunities in tactical nukes.

Nowadays, American 'gets to' use bunker buster nukes in Iran, or to stop Iran's vengeful hordes from taking a retaliatory walk over our troops in Iraq after we nuke Tehran. Russia 'gets to' use tactical nukes to take out American missile bases in Poland. The Israelis have a short list of their own. Everybody's got their red line that nobody better cross. In fact, a profusion of red lines is all the rage lately. Unbearable threats are simply everywhere this season.

The profit opportunities are not in mushroom clouds themselves, but in all the new Cold War hysteria the threat of baby nukes gives birth to.

Red lines that no one oughta cross do wonders for jacking up the Pentagon's budget, yet again. It will even be possible under such high-threat conditions to institute a military draft in America, put a million GI's into states surrounding the Russian state, shut down all political dissent in the fifty states of America, and put an end to all this horseshit about minimum wages, Social Security, and a safety net for the herd animals we once called citizens.

The business is war is what remains of the Republic.

Trickle down economics has evolved to fascist capitalism.

We the people has become wee on the people.

Posted by: Antifa | Aug 20, 2008 11:47:37 AM | 4

slightly OT - The Polish government has accepted U.S. missile defense under the condition that it gets also a Patriot anti-aircraft/anti-missile attachment to defend against Russian attacks. Did anyone explain to them that Patriots are medium to high air defense assets (not very reliable ones) and the Russian response would likely come through low flying cruise missiles?

Again the political story does not fit the military assets

Just wondering ...

Posted by: b | Aug 20, 2008 11:59:11 AM | 5

& the empire always speaks of just wars but it has never fought one

if the 2nd world war was a just war - the only people who fought it in the real sense were the russians & the germans. except for a few moments in the pacific - the rest was a bloody sideshow. it was russian blood of all ethnic origins that made the world safe for the u s empire to divide & rule on every continent. one of the tragic ironies of history

u s armed forces have never been tested in any real sense. they fight as thugs do - with overwhelming power - with an enemy that i capable of returning the favour - i think the russians would do to the u s armed forces finally what it did to the nazis

the empire has mistaken its ideological/cultural control of medias & puppets all over the world - with a domination over the people. what they do not understand is that from north to south & from east to west, they are hated, they are despised & that possesses concrete consequences & history is quiteclear on this point - if it does not destroy us all first - u s imperialism will be defeated by its own hubris - it will be demeaned as british & french imperialsm were. the russsian people have known hardship in a way western 'civilisation' cannot possibly comprehend & if that mighty nation is obliged to fight nato - nato will become so much sand in their hands

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 12:12:23 PM | 6

Are you making the argument that Russia has no reason to fear NATO expansion?

Risk reward ratio and logistics... It's not that NATO is a paper tiger but the risk reward ratio of taking conventional military action to counter the Russian moves outlined in the scenario are horrible. And sometimes logistics decide the risk reward ratio. Russia couldn't realistically have done anything militarily about Kosovo just as the US couldn't about Georgia. It is fantasy that the US was going to directly engage Russian troops in Georgia if not for the commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Although it should be noted that Bush is prone to fantasy.)

Still if Russia were to carry out such a scenario, no NATO military response would not mean there would be no cost to Russia. In the long run such actions would almost surely have severe geopolitical costs. The idea that Russia does not carry out such a scenario is hardly proof of good intentions. I certainly am not comfortable they wouldn't try something of the sort if the costs were relatively small. I expect Russia to try to engineer a reverse color revolution in the Ukraine to cover their southern flank. Potentially hostile forces arrayed there would be a nightmare for Russia.

Posted by: Extinct Species | Aug 20, 2008 12:21:34 PM | 7

From the Independent, this morning.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband held breakfast with the main opposition leaders lasting more than an hour during a flying visit to Tbilisi over the crisis in a move which is bound to add pressure on the beleaguered Georgian leader.

The meeting follows talks between Western diplomats in Georgia and Mr Saakashvili’s rivals in recent days and is seen by observers as the West opening up channels to those who might wrest power in the future.

Although the governments in the US and Western Europe have made a public showing of backing Mr Saakashvili, there has been increasing questioning of his tactics which had allowed the Russians to score a major strategic victory over Nato. There is also unease at the Georgian leader’s increasingly erratic behaviour in public at press conferences alongside, among others, Condoleezza Rice and Angela Merkel.


A Western diplomat said: "The opposition are keeping quiet now because they are terrified of doing Moscow's work," said one Western diplomat in Tbilisi. "But as soon as the Russians are out of the country, Saakashvili is finished.”

What? And let all that American beacon of democracy training go to waste? Oh, the humanity!

The Lion of the Caucasus is on the skids, and with the corpses of Tchinvali not yet all in the graves, the AngloAmericans are looking for a suitable replacement, crack American education or no crack American education. It's one thing to commit war crimes, quite another to be an utter failure and embarrassing your underwriters while you're at it.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 20, 2008 12:30:21 PM | 8

@ES - Are you making the argument that Russia has no reason to fear NATO expansion?

No. NATO expansion is dangerous for Russia. Tiny little countries with NATO cover could feel invigorated and make some nonsense that would require Russia to react and be costly for it. It is dangerous as it makes it necessary for Russia to use precaution and to put more money into its military than is necessary.

It always also has to cope with a potential threat from China towards Siberia. Russia would actually love to work with Europe and have European support for an eventual fight east of the Ural.

The U.S. would hate such an axis.

Posted by: b | Aug 20, 2008 12:43:12 PM | 9

& enveloped by fear as the american people are & here in europe - i feel that the people see through all this & will not support any, any kind of military action against russia. i don't know the figures but i cannot believe the americans are sufficiently stupid to allow mccain to take this issue into a world war

the people know that iraq is a failur, thes people know afghanistan is a failure, the people know they are being manipulated to wage war against iran - they will not allow this to pass. i'm sure of that

& if we are cretinous to allow it to happen we deserve the consequences

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 12:49:48 PM | 10

Russia cancels all military cooperation with NATO

Russian authorities informed the Norwegian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday that officials in Moscow were immediately halting, cancelling or postponing all planned military cooperation with NATO's members..


Around 10 joint military exercises were planned involving Russian and NATO members through the end of this year. They will probably all be cancelled.

Barth Eide said he was trying to discern other concrete examples of what the Russians' move will mean. He's unsure whether joint search and rescue efforts, border controls or fisheries inspections will, for example, be affected.


A professor at the University of Oslo said earlier on Tuesday that there were signs the Cold War was starting up again, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday that the war in Georgia emphasizes the need for closer military cooperation between Syria and Russia.

...Professor Daniel Heradstveit called al-Assad's remarks "bad news for the West," adding that "this begins to taste like the Cold War."

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 20, 2008 1:14:51 PM | 11

I agree that the american people are enveloped by fear, but fear is the 'mind-killer'. They will do nothing to stop maccain or obama or any other american leader from starting wars anywhere. They, the american people, have been throughly neutralized with controversies over gay marriage, immigration, tax breaks and the 'War on Terror'. Their, stupidity is legion.

Posted by: Iron Butterfly | Aug 20, 2008 1:19:31 PM | 12

Hubris moving toward violence in a unipolar world will result in annihilation. We cannot re-fight the Second World War either, in a world of nukes. And it looks increasingly unlikely that there is any political solution. What we need is something more fundamental, really transformational, in the way people think.

Lysander points to the American public's attachment to the Empire; and there, he's identified the real problem.

Bernhard's scenario doesn't bet on a nuclear exchange; but cogent or rational thought gives way under the heat, pressure, and momentum of events. The Daddy Party and the Daddy Country, under a Daddy President like McCain, can be expected to go berserk when foreign people don't do what children are supposed to do, when they are told.

It's the same old Empire, which is already despised the world over. Even our **friends and allies** hope we get what's coming to us. The tragedy is that people are afraid; and in their hearts they dread the change and disruption of their lives that will be coming anyway,-- whether they continue to turn the White House over to bastards,-- or not.

Posted by: Copeland | Aug 20, 2008 1:40:58 PM | 13

@ 10: but i cannot believe the americans are sufficiently stupid to allow mccain to take this issue into a world war ...the people know that iraq is a failur, thes people know afghanistan is a failure, the people know they are being manipulated to wage war against iran - they will not allow this to pass. i'm sure of that

Speaking as an American and for the Americans I am familiar with in the heartland, you are quite wrong to believe that. Americans (I exclude myself - I am an expat for good reason) may "know" that "we" are stuck in Iraq and in Afghanistan and may very well have to use "our" military might to protect the nation from an angry bear. They're already very very afraid of crushing debt, losing their jobs and homes, their cars (can't fillerup), etc., etc. In my view it wouldn't take much to make them feel better - e.g. winning something. And John McCain knows how to win wars. Sick and tired and desperate. Pretty dangerous combo. Besides all those peace marches aren't having much effect, are they?

Posted by: Hamburger | Aug 20, 2008 1:43:14 PM | 14

"In fact, a profusion of red lines is all the rage lately."
And we know how well multiple red lines worked back in July 1914.

Reverse color revolution in Ukraine: I have to say I'm just amazed at seeing Tymoshenko suspected of being now pro-Russia after having been its fiercest opponent for several years. Though that part was maybe politically motivated and not ideological. Still, this looks weird to me. Could she have in mind an alliance with the pro-Russian side of parliament? (in which case Ukraine's NATO demand would be dead in the water)

"Russia would actually love to work with Europe and have European support for an eventual fight east of the Ural.
The U.S. would hate such an axis."
I hope for such a reversal of alliances since years. It's quite obvious that if EU, including its most Western powers, were a bit smart, it would've realised since a long time that the only alliance that makes sense in the medium and long terms is with Russia - which has energy, other natural resources, and a sizable military and military industries (and technology). EU would provide the cash and a bit of manpower Russia lacks to be truly a global player, and Europe would get energy near-indepdendance for some time, and the military side it sorely lacks.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 20, 2008 1:43:43 PM | 15

Here are two links on the Yushchenk/Timoshenko ruckus, one the Telegraph, the other a Russian (Regnum) source.

Ukraine leaders split under Russian pressure

Yushchenko falsified session of National Security Council that allegedly made decision on Russian Black Sea Fleet — Timoshenko

“To our knowledge, there was no meeting of NSDC on August 13. The fact that the National Security and Defense Council allegedly accepted some decision, and the president signed a decree on this basis, was learnt by the government from the media. Unfortunately, we have to state that lie and an attempt to compromise became the only business and a daily rule of heads of the Presidents' Secretariat,” they underscored in the press office of the government.

Looks to me like the economic pragmatists in the Ukraine have had enough of the America's Orange revolutionary. Fascinating turn of events. And the Russkies haven't lifted a finger.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 20, 2008 2:03:54 PM | 16

A few problems with the scenario: first, conventional military capabilities of the Russian forces is seriously limited and is unlikely to be turned around soon; second, while Western European countries are ambivalent about Russia, populations in several "Eastern" European ones--most notably Poland--are overwhelmingly hostile. They may actually do something--if not through NATO, then perhaps on their own--against Russian moves like that. Poles, especially, have always had an exaggerated sense of their own power in the region. Some repetition of the Polish-Soviet War of 1919 might be possible. While meaningful Western support for the Baltic states is improbable, material and diplomatic support for Poland, should such conflict break out, is more than likely--again, in repetition of 1919. With such support, Polish arms might prove to be at least a match against such conventional forces that Russians might be able to spare.

Russian military strategy today puts far more weight on nuclear weapons precisely because its conventional arms are so weak. Yet, subtle intervention of the sort as in your scenario requires use of highly trained and equipped conventional forces--nuclear threats just won't work. I think Georgia is a one-time deal, not a long- or even medium-term trend. Nobody would have counter-intervened credibly in Georgia--but not the same story in the Ukraine or Lithuania.

Posted by: kao-hsien-chih | Aug 20, 2008 2:30:26 PM | 17

i have been 'rereading the rise of the vulcans' which for all its implicit critique of this administration - is largely sympathetic but upon a second reading in the light of today's events - i underdtznd that we live in a time that merits a dante a blake - the times, not the people - the people are everyday monsters - they are in essence no different to the eichmanns & berias - they are all, engineers of fears

the times though are dantean in almost every aspect - especially the interiorised one, perhaps especially the interiorised one. i see hamburgers post the other night in that context

it is clear that this world is in deep deep trouble - without any perceivable hopeful perspective in the near future - the delicate formations in latin america are extremely fragile but they indicate the only hope - where a people driven for a century with fear - have walked towards hope. the only reason they have not been smashed by u s imperialism is their inherent solidarity & the fact that the armed forces of imperialism cannot afford even the most limited expeditions

& then i read today the buffoon bernard henri-levy in a monstrous article which is specious as well as being extremely racist(you know, the marauding seperatists, the drunken russian soldier etc etc) & like all the media before him - he depends on hearsay, on things the georgian foreign ministry tell him - i will not dignify it with a link here - but his already ravaged reputation shall take another hit though it might get him in the new yorker. it was a seamy thing to read - worded as it is in its pseudo-wounded wailing. people like him follow the pascalian imperative, they love themselves more than they love the world

& ironically i have been sent a book by duke university edited by the slovenian żiżek - it is an anthology of essays on lenin & it (again in the light of todays events) is a illuminating in its character & detail of who lenin was - what in fact gave birth to lenin & the revolution of october. the essays do not deïfy but they do not demonise & really lenin's 'crimes' are very paltry indeed in relation to say a donald rumsfield or a paul wolfowitz. & whatever can be said october brought light to a country that had been enveloped in darkness & it is clear at least to me that this experiment was blockaded from birth - for me there are many 'what ifs' - if this country was allowed to develop naturally. that was not to be. & if you read as i have all my life the so called hiostorians & ideologues like condaleeza rice - how much their work is full of hatred of an elemental hatred. it was never objective, not in the least. in fact the real scholarly work on russia has been done by the germans, the italians & the french & of course the russians themselves & it is largely objective. objective as you can be in an epoch full of fear & hate

& this hatred is a central superstructure of the empire's project - is it any wonder that opposition to it is often froced through the filter of fanaticism

& what is elemental in reading 'rise of the vulcans' again is that everything they are connected with has failed & is failing. they have turned everything they touched into shit. in doing so they have created a dangerous & reckless world

what bh levy does not understand to any degree is how the the thug saakshivileness mirrors that dangerous & reckless world

& when i reflect upon that deeply & in the context of the shallowness in which this crisis has been created - i really feel fear, for myself, for us all

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 2:40:33 PM | 18

b - i had a post ready about how it's technically possible to replace the Patriot's warheads with W8 nuclear warheads used in US cruise missiles, but then didn't post it, because it's useless speculation on a more useless speculation why Poland-Patriot deal stinks on ice, because it's useless speculation on what Russia will do next, because it's useless speculation if US:UN could respond, when the global economic system is undergoing a reversal of planetary axes, changes we haven't seen in decades, back to before the Soviet breakup, before the reunification of Germany, before EU, before Green Earth Day, we are heading back to a Cold War II, not just in military fantasy, but the entire religio-politico-socio-economic fabric.
All hail Dubai, that's the Neo-Pharoahism center of gravity on earth now.

Posted by: Meow Ztung | Aug 20, 2008 3:30:09 PM | 19

& in reading that book - one is reminded that they are charlatans - perle, wolfowitz, feith, bolton - don't possess a serious thought between them but in light of todays events they opposed any form of detente - they all wanted to crush russia into the earth. they have failed at everything else. why kh chih, should they succed with a country that takes its military learning very seriouslly indeed. why should these fools who pretend they are thinkers - that they are great strategists - have been wrong on everything meaving others to pay including their own elites. strauss, bloom & the other prophets of this thuggery were slight figures - compared to a husserl, a merleau ponty, a tran duc thao a karl jaspers - they are, what they appear today -extremely mediocre thinkers with dangerous thoughts indeed mad thoughts with a dangerous connection to state power

in the 90's russia was ravaged by the vultures of empire & the maggots within her - but it would not be the first time that russia has lifted herself out of the muck & created of herself - a stunning entity. what she has the u s empire does not - soul - when you have been placed on the margins the act of instinct, of reflexive thinking are very very important. that has been happening & in fact for all the destruction in the 90's her children did not leave her - on the contrary - the beast the u s empire became was something clear & transparent & while this does not make communists of commerical businessmen - what it does make clear is identity. in large part the victories of latin america are built on that identity

while the judenfrei poland, ukraine & the baltic represent not a strugle for identity but a retreat into fantasy. even in a conventional military strike - poland would fall as it has fallen before - look at the president for fuck's sake - a nation that chose him & his idiot twin brother at one point is past serious commentary

russia of all things is not naive & i would take her at her word

germany wanted a war of anhilation against the east - stalin famously sd - if that is what they want - that is what they will get - a war of anhilation. that is a living history to russians. while in the west they want their people to forget what happened last week

you seem to have a calmer head but think terrible things are about to happen

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 3:31:11 PM | 20

georgia' ossetian debacle

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 3:51:39 PM | 21

@kao-hsien-chih - I do in no way think that Russia would like to go through the scenario I laid out.

Getting back the Ukraine, yes - if it can been done peacefully (it can). Most of the Ukraine has been part of Russia for some 300(?) years!

The Baltics? Not really important for Russia. But if the sizable Russian minorities there (10%) are endangered they might get important.

Poland going it alone would repeat 1939 for them. What are they gonna do if they don't get attacked directly? Attack and take Kiev, Minsk or Leningrad? How many miles are that? They have 100,000 ground forces total in about the same shape than Russia's forces. If the bear gets serious, that's a joke. It has over a million active military forces.

The quite subtle intervention of Russia in Georgia was done by regular B-level troops with late 1970s equipment, not by elite A or A+ forces with modern equipment. I am still amazed that they got this done without resorting to the really nasty stuff as they were outnumbered for the first 48 hours. (Georgia claims less than 200 dead!) The moral state of their forces was much higher than expected.

Posted by: b | Aug 20, 2008 3:59:03 PM | 22

I repeat my demand: the USSR should be forcibly reconstituted until it irons out a system that guarantees minority rights, freedom of movement, safeguards of civil rights, property rights and intellectual rights and secures a fair and equitable means of exploiting the nation's vast natural resources.

Only then should it be allowed to split up again into constituent states. Anything else is a recipie for decades of ongoing turmoil and instability.

In exchange, NATO should be forced to expel its post-1989 members.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Aug 20, 2008 4:28:36 PM | 23

@ralphieboy - in theory I'd agree. Unfortunately history moved on ...

Posted by: b | Aug 20, 2008 4:59:05 PM | 24

b h levy it goes without saying is a charlatan of the lowest order. he has never been taken seriously here except as an advertiser for himself. amongst philosophers here - he is not regarded, at all. even by those you would think would be his natural allies. he is regarded as ridiculous. the writing on georgia is just another piece of paper that will have to be shoved into a hole

he is however popular in the elites both political & financial - who see in him their golden boy - there have been a number of books here critical of levy that are lucky to have seen the light of day because of the pressure he has had applied to publisher, editors

like a fool - & like the u s empire - he makes the infantile mistake of imagining all criticism as envy - so he has been busy building the monument to himself

if you want a giggle - his book on daniel pearl is breathtakingly obscen wherein he imagines himself as pearl - much to the very evident disgust of daniel pearl's wife. in other books his fetishism of violence is work for the lacanians, no doubt. the saddest is when he tries to be scholarly as in his 'study'(i use the word very lightly indeed because it is yet another book where bhl is fascinated by bhl)of sartre because it is a rancid book - in the fullest meaning of that term. even the worst in sartre merits more hn bhl could ever write

the worst of it is there are a small group of 68ers as they are called here - who monopolise all & any discussion on 1968 who have become in their dotage - the willing servant of u s imperialism on this as wrll as on other matters. bhl's russophobia comes as no surprise as it is yet another permutation of the hatred he extends to france herself. like the rest of the gang they are arabaphobes to a man (there are very few women amongst their number because in fact women worked the challenges of 68 more fully

bhls life is a fantasy & so is the world of his masters - but he is not concious to any degree how much it represent a nightmare a nightmare of shallows, shadows & surface. hofmanstahl sd that everything exists only on the surface - bhl has taken him at his word

i think one of the envies a bhl towards the arabs as well as the russian is their profundity & as the roman citizen envied the slave - he also envies their suffering

because in the end it is suffering that will decide this & all other questions

it is only within that suffering that real answers are sought

this, an epoch or charlatans will ner understand, merely mimic

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 5:25:05 PM | 25

The Puppet Masters Behind Georgia President Saakashvili
By F. William Engdahl

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 20, 2008 6:48:58 PM | 26

this, an epoch of charlatans will never understand, merely mimic

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 7:19:31 PM | 27

link for thrasyboulos

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 7:30:08 PM | 28

Thenk you, r'giap. Interesting site.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 20, 2008 8:19:36 PM | 29

Sometimes after I read through a MoA thread I want to hold my head in despair. This is one of those times. I know we like to personalize the opposition by holding up shrub or cheney as the great evil but in reality the sort of antagonism which leads to wars, particularly long running siege type wars like the last Cold War, must come from the population itself. Sure the elites go out of their way to brainwash the more compliant elements of the population but in the end it is two vital segments of the population whose attitudes fuel these conflicts.

In addition to the lackeys of the ruling elite who are cranked by the common media voice, and whose viewpoint is often so ridiculous a moment's reflection would toss it out in disgust, there is another faction whose oppositional energy cranks the thing along.

Criticism of the ruling elite is essential but it is (IMO) stupid to do it on the basis of the other side being completely virtuous. In the end the population is compelled to choose between two competing sets of bullshit so picks the one that favours their self interest.The population goes for the line which deceives about intellectual and ethical superiority of them over the so-called enemy.

The issue that is really pissing me off because it has been mooted in here with seeming complete acceptance by everyone prolly because they all live in the North and haven't thought it through is rather different.

That the best way ahead for the world is for USuk and Russia to band together and fuck China up. Clueless Joe mentioned this in at least one other thread and for the life of me I can't understand why anyone would think a conflict with China a good idea.

I don't believe that China is some sort of altruist by any means but thus far they have pretty much stuck to Chou En Lai's 1955 undertaking at the first Afro-Asian conference in Bandung. That was:

Later in the conference, Zhou Enlai signed on to the article in the concluding declaration stating that overseas Chinese owed primary loyalty to their home nation, rather than to China - a highly sensitive issue for both his Indonesian hosts and for several other participating countries.

A 10-point "declaration on promotion of world peace and cooperation," incorporating the principles of the United Nations Charter and Jawaharlal Nehru's principles, was adopted unanimously:

1. Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations
2. Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations
3. Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations large and small
4. Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country
5. Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself, singly or collectively, in conformity with the charter of the United Nations
6. (a) Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve any particular interests of the big powers
(b) Abstention by any country from exerting pressures on other countries
7. Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country
8. Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties own choice, in conformity with the charter of the united nations
9. Promotion of mutual interests and cooperation
10. Respect for justice and international obligations.[2]

"Yeah Yeah", peeps say "blah blah - a lot of countries said all sorts of stuff back in the day".
China and Japan have been having a bit of an arm wrestle throughout the Pacific for the last couple of decades. For many years the Japanese followed up on the colonies they lost after 1945 with extensive economic imperialism in the South West Pacific especially Indonesia. They had pretty much free rein in the 70's and 80's. Why wouldn't they? Their economic interests meshed into amerika's interests and China was still isolated.

However by the 1990's this had changed and China became more involved in areas previously considered a Japanese or USuk stamping ground. As the competition (which has been pretty straightforward, maybe a bit of bribery but I'm unaware of any USuk style tactics such as political assassination etc) expanded, the zone of competition expanded with it, reaching further eastwards out of the nations inhabited by Malay type people (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines) through Melanesia where Australia has been wreaking havoc for so long (The Solomons, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu) and into Polynesia the area many Northerners consider a paradise (Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga etc).

Tonga is one of the last remaining monarchies where the King or Queen rules absolutely. Successive Australian and NZ governments have chosen to ignore that whilst they criticized Iraq (back in Saddam's time) Burma or Zimbabwe. If pressed they would usually mutter something about 'change takes time and the people seem happy - they love their king/queen') Nothing about the range of business partnerships which NZ and Australian corporations had with members of the Royal Family. A monarchy which abused political power to maintain monopolies held by their private family interests.

Through the nineties and noughties a lot of Chinese businesses were set up in Tonga especially it's capital Nuku'alofa. These weren't just the usual expat family businesses in some cases the owners were back in China.
By 2006 the Tongan people had had enough of their corrupt and uncaring royalty who back in 2005 had locked out the public service after the public servants took industrial action. From a Scoop release:
Tonga’s 3000 public servants went on strike more than three weeks ago after senior Government officials were awarded pay rises of up to 80% while the lowest paid public servants, who earn as little as $47 a week, received rises as low as 1%.

More than 1400 teachers have joined the strike along with doctors, nurses and other health workers, protesting the widening gap between the rich and the poor in Tonga. Government Ministers in Tonga earn over $100,000 a year while a police officer is paid $50 a week.

So in November 2006 the population had enough. The CBD of Nuku'alofa was razed, burnt to the ground in the riots of November 06.

Even though the Chinese lost far more than any of the other foreign interests in this desperate action by the Tongan people, it was NZ and Australian forces who went in there to break heads and calm everything down.

At the time China voiced concern at what appeared to be the deliberate targeting of Chinese owned businesses, they made no dire threats of retribution of the type that whitefellas make when their interests are in danger. The Chinese temporarily evacuated their nationals.

Following the riots, Beijing approved an estimated TG$100 million soft loan to the Tongan government for rebuilding central Nukua'lofa.

It was the Chinese businesses which rebuilt first. NZ and Australia had been pretending to pressure the Tongan aristocracy to reform for 50 years. In the end it was China who had attached 'strings' to their economic assistance, that had the king divesting his business monopolies; and, at the last minute, before his coronation last month, the king promised major constitutional reform.

I don't pretend that China's actions are motivated by altruism or are free of self interest. The intervention in Tonga will help assuage fears of Pacific people the Chinese merchant culture by ensuring that there is a more ven distribution of wealth in Tonga. When people are doing OK they stop wanting to burn things down. Tonga should really have been left to sort out it's own business but China's interference has thus far been benign compared to the way that Australia or NZ 'helped' or amerika intervened in the similarly sized Grenada.

Some time do a bit of a google on how Australia has fucked up the Solomons or PNG when they searched out the most selfish and crooked members of those nations' elites to do business with. Presumably because it is easier in the short term. China has always had a long term vision about what it does, in itself, that is more likely to avoid conflict.

Those who seek a confrontation with China because of Tibet would do well to ponder how the peeps in Tibet gonna be when the war is being fought on the streets of Lhasa.

I don't know whether the pre-occupation for confrontation with China is racially driven or just a sort of 'shoot the messenger' reaction to amerika's decision to close down it's manufacturing base.
That wasn't a result of china setting about to deliberately turn big chunks of amerika into an industrial wasteland. Amerikan corporations went to China after nixon's visit and harangued the Chinese into building the factories. Sure China is happy with the result but it was caused by delusional amerikans stupidly imagining they could economically conquer China rather than the other way around.

Why China? How about remembering what Monty Python said

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 20, 2008 9:23:37 PM | 30


i just googled it

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 20, 2008 9:40:37 PM | 31

nice idea for a political thriller... but funds with 200 billion in inventory aren't going to be 'obscure'... russias debt and dollar holdings are administered directly by their central bank, not some cayman hedge fund.

you should also ask yourself why they would want higher US rates since russians , chinese etc heavily borrow in dollars to fund their infrastructure.

Posted by: rbv | Aug 21, 2008 2:27:03 AM | 32

Re: the puppetmasters, #26 and #28. Interesting article, will check later for more info.

This stuck out:

Soros is also the financier together with the US State Department of the Human Rights Watch, a US- based and run propaganda arm of the entire NGO apparatus of regime coups such as Georgia and Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution.

I see quotes from Human Rights Watch all the time, had no idea it might be one of those reversely-named US organizations like the Clean Air Act etc.

Also kinda funny if true because Soros is constantly labeled as a left-wing funder of Kos and Atrios.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 21, 2008 3:11:02 AM | 33

Re: the puppetmasters, #26 and #28. Interesting article, will check later for more info.

This stuck out:

Soros is also the financier together with the US State Department of the Human Rights Watch, a US- based and run propaganda arm of the entire NGO apparatus of regime coups such as Georgia and Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution.

I see quotes from Human Rights Watch all the time, had no idea it might be one of those reversely-named US organizations like the Clean Air Act etc.

Also kinda funny if true because Soros is constantly labeled as a left-wing funder of Kos and Atrios.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 21, 2008 3:12:01 AM | 34

Hmm both China and Russia are on the plus side of balance of trade ledgers with the west. However much they may need to borrow to fund infrastructure, they are owed more by USukEU and stand to gain from an increase in interest rates.
Yep most of the Russia commodities contracts are in amerikan dollars so a fall in the value of the dollar would give them a heap more roubles, imports would cost less and any wrinkles easily be ironed out by adjusting the price of hydrocarbons on their short term contracts in a sellers market.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 21, 2008 3:16:11 AM | 35

oops, sorry for the double post.

Another interesting quote from that article by writer F.W.Engdhal ...

a report in by Gl Ronen, stating that “The Georgian move against South Ossetia was motivated by political considerations having to do with Israel and Iran, according to Nfc. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili decided to assert control over the breakaway region in order to force Israel to reconsider its decision to cut back its support for Georgia’s military.”

Ronen added, “Russian and Georgian media reported several days ago that Israel decided to stop its support for Georgia after Moscow made it clear to Jerusalem and Washington that Russia would respond to continued aid for Georgia by selling advanced anti-aircraft systems to Syria and Iran.” Israel plans to get oil and gas from the Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from the Caspian.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 21, 2008 3:21:27 AM | 36

@jonku yeah well It sure shows that left is always relative to where you happen to be sitting.
I'm no fan of Soros and it always blew me away when the dems used to proudly tout Soros as the epitome of a progressive liberal trans-national capitalist. If that wasn't sufficiently oxymoronic ask yourself how liberalism as in caring for your fellow man can possibly move hand in hand with Soros style usury.
I haven't watched Soros of late but back in the day he made money by forcing smaller sovereign economies against the wall with his huge runs on their currency.
If he's a liberal, I wonder why his activities were such a neo-con's wet dream. That is by creating runs on the old school protected currencies, Soros would force a country to 'float' it's currency. That is nations could no longer protect their citizens from the ravages of short term money market fluctuations and had to open their economies up to assholes who then forced privatisations, de-regulation and all the rest of the late 20th century nastiness that left the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Like you, I first of all thought human rights watch was soome sort of Amnesty International. It wasn't, the HRW reports invariably attack enemies of western control and conceal the crimes of western allies. Although Amnesty International has become more like HRW particularly over Palestine.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 21, 2008 3:34:59 AM | 37

@Debs - you are answering to me writimng [Russia] always also has to cope with a potential threat from China towards Siberia.

I should have emphasized "potential". China is so far very benign in its foreign policy and no threat to Russia. Still the resources it will need over the long time are in Siberia and a more nationalist/rightwing government in China could easily go at taking them.

As "strategic block" I prefer continental Europe including Russia without the USuk over the current irrelevant transatlantic pact.

Posted by: b | Aug 21, 2008 3:54:55 AM | 38

Debs, off-topic but anyway, I was just in central europe, czech and slovakia. People there are pretty wwll off as far as I can see.

They have cars, food etc. No obvious slums or homeless, in general pretty happy.

So per the meter my grandfather used, they will vote for the status quo.

In slovakia I was told that their EU membership allowed the young to migrate to better economies i.e. czech republic, germany. In turn they faced immigration from less-well-off-economies like romania. So there's always someone doing better than you, but also someone less well off.

They asked me what to expect when they adopt the euro next year or so. I said expect more tourists, especially as they are completing an autostrada from west to east along the north to add to their connections to vienna and budapest in the south. And maybe offers to buy their land.

What do you think?

Posted by: jonku | Aug 21, 2008 4:05:02 AM | 39

I'm not trying to shift the thread, but Debs' #30 did not show up until after his #37. Sorry for the interruption, please carry on.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 21, 2008 4:19:05 AM | 40

@ B No the post wasn't directed at anything specific just a general trend I have seen where China is offered up as a better enemy in here from time to time. I don't hold with the idea of any nation "having" to have an enemy and am especially not keen on picking China.

chiefly because, of all the big powers it has been China that has gone softly softly catchee monkee when pursuing it's national self interest. You're right of course B that this could change but it is a pretty well established foreign policy China has been aggressively pursuing non intervention for several thousand years. Tibet well - that is complicated since China has always considered Tibet to be within it's borders. Taiwan is probably the worst example of Chinese imperialism but just about no one else considers the occupation of Taiwan to be imperialism. The indigenous Taiwanese people are closely related to NZ's Maori, culturally and genetically. The worst excesses seem to have occured after 1948, after Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang invasion. Apparently China had 'owned' Taiwan since Zheng Cheng-gong drove the Dutch out in 1662.

@ Jonku Sorry it got complicated the spam filter held 30 until B was kind enough to clear it out so I decided to make a few posts in the meantime.

I'm sure that the initial upshot of the freeing up of central europe will seem great. However I worry that when the shit hits the fan as it always does with boom bang bust capitalism, governments will find themselves powerless to do much.

NZ went through all this as I've said in here boringly often and apart from the post 1987 crash recession when the 'reforms' had not fully implemented, the economy has been burbling along nicely.

However there are a couple of anomolies in the way that the neo-conned central banks run, to do with their emphasis on preventing inflation at the expense of everything else and the single lever of adjusting prime lending rates the bank has, means that in an environment such as the current one of large externally driven price increases, adhering to the faith will cause chaos and misery.

The central banks be forced into pushing up interest rates at a time when the economy needs more money sloshing around and the market is particularly cost sensitive.

That is the externally driven price increases a factor of the oil rises, are completely outside the purview of a central bank yet the rationalist/neo-con credo makes them forced to intervene with interest hikes.
At the very least that raises the cost of money at a time when business requires cheap money to stay afloat, while the same bad circumstances in the nations who had been investing in the open economies - (from behind their own nation's protection barriers of course) stops overseas investors from taking advantage of the rate hike.

We are beginning to see it here. The NZ 'open' economy has been running courtesy of the japanese 'carry trade' that is allegedly japanese housewives investing surplus funds in NZ's high interest rates. But now external inflation combined with sub-prime paranoia means that lots of the investors need the money for themselves and those that don't are scared of losing on the money market so they have moved into commodities investment.

The 'free' economies are really twixt a rock and a hard place. Pushing up interest rates strangles the economy and no longer draws overseas investors in, pushing rates down would drive out the few die-hard investors and wouldn't reduce the cost of money since demand for money exceeds supply. A true in-elastic market. Pushing interest up won't increase investment but pushing it down will decrease it.

The 'new floating' economies have no other levers, they all got deregulated and rationalised out of existence.
So as far as I can tell those of us living in the opened economies are in for an uncontrolled helter skelter.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 21, 2008 5:36:57 AM | 41

erichwwk [1]
**nato is a paper tiger**

nato = no action, talk only.

lysander [2]
**In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday**

"Is Georgia 2008 a Repeat of Hungary 1956, With John McCain as Agent Provocateur?"
[see above link]

btw, following eric margolis and winter patriot, commondreams is now discouraging comments from readers, is this the starting of a trend.?

Posted by: denk | Aug 21, 2008 6:19:50 AM | 42

I see quotes from Human Rights Watch all the time, had no idea it might be one of those reversely-named US organizations like the Clean Air Act etc.

i just found out about them the other day after someone used them as a source the 1500-2000 dead in SO was a farce. turns out HRW was the main source for all these msm's claiming this wishy washy 'we can't confirm if its true' meme. and they're supposed to be watching himan rights? their still hasn't been any confirmation in the msm a large number of people died after being bombed all night, and usually they mention SO deaths along w/georgians lumping them all together somehow construing it is all russias fault. of course.

Who is behind Human Rights Watch?

Human Rights Watch is founded on belief in the superiority of American values. It has close links to the US foreign policy elite, and to other interventionist and expansionist lobbies.

Human Rights Watch is organised approximately by continent. The Europe section was established in 1978, originally named 'Helsinki Steering Committee' or 'Helsinki Watch'. It is the core of the later Human Rights Watch organisation. In the late 1970's, human rights had become the main issue in Cold War propaganda, after Soviet concessions at the Helsinki summit (1975), allowing human rights monitoring. Western governments encouraged 'private' organisations to use this concession - not out of moral concern, but as a means of pressuring the Soviet Union. HRW was one of these 'private' organisations: in other words, it began as a Cold War propaganda instrument.

Posted by: annie | Aug 21, 2008 12:49:20 PM | 43

thrasyboulos mentioned this the other day in a post - the complete unreliability of hrw especially their shameful role in iraq. i can onlu concur & your ost annie gives us some highlights of their 'interests'

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 21, 2008 12:59:33 PM | 44

Debs: Not sure if I haven't been clear enough of late, but my opinion is quite similar to B's 38. Potentially, Russia has as much to fear from China, and in the long term, if they don't have deals or even alliances, they might have real reasons to fear for Siberia. Though it's all in the future and US/West is a bigger pressing issue right now. As said above, China isn't very imperialistic now, in fact it's closer to what it's been for several centuries, mostly focused on maintaining the huge empire quiet and running. Unless provoked, they don't seem to fancy war, except maybe if natural resources are really sorely lacking - but I don't see them running around conquering half the planet for the fun of it, or going here and there changing regimes just because they think their system is perfect and everybody should have it.
And concerning Europe, Europe has to ally with Russia - Russia should ally with EU, though it's probably a bit less crucial than it is for EU. Wheteher UK is part of it or left behind to dry depends on the British. Though when i said this recently, I didn't imply it as merely an axis to deal with China. For the world at large, China might be a problem, other powers could arise (though less likely to be massive and threatening enough), yet right now USA represents the biggest menace, given US economic and military weight.
It's quite obvious it would be better if a multipolar world could have some agreements and deals and avoid major wars - I for one don't wish war against China, or Russia, or any other major power, because we've seen what great powers going to war against each other tend to do way back in 1914.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 21, 2008 6:24:22 PM | 45

I think that Bush has to stop supporting ambitious Saakashvili, Ossetians do not want to live in Georgia because they have been massacred by Georgian government (Georgian people is good but its government is bad), all eastern europeans must learn Finland and Switzerland, which do not belong to NATO and are neutral and they do not have problems with Russia, Finland is the model, is neutral and is a neighbour of Russia, but the U.S. government buy poor eastern european governments, please copy Finland.
I want Nagorno Karabakh to be recognized internationally and therefore belonging to Armenia, I want Republika Srpska to be independent from Bosnia, and if Ukraine wants to be in NATO russian-speakind eartern provinces: Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea have to declare its independence from Ukraine for suporting NATO beacuse Russians feel threatened.

Posted by: marco | Aug 23, 2008 3:56:47 PM | 46

@marco - I would like more 'Finnlandization' in current NATO countries. But what you propose is something different.

The mikrostates you list would all suffer against the big ones which would still be around fighting about them. Nagorno Karabakh would be swallowed by neighbors this or next year if it became independent. Republika Srpska would be fingerfood for anybody in that area. And do not believe for a moment that EU or NATO would prevent such. Georgia just proved that.

Posted by: b | Aug 23, 2008 4:48:16 PM | 47

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