Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 19, 2008

Russia Irrelevant?

Russia’s invasion of Georgia has achieved – and will achieve – no enduring strategic objective. And our strategic goal now is to make clear to Russia’s leaders that their choices could put Russia on a one-way path to self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance.
Secretary Rice Addresses U.S.-Russia Relations At The German Marshall Fund, Sept 18, 2008

International irrelevance? Hmm ... you really think so? Here is the response:

Russia threatened to block NATO from using its air space for operations in Afghanistan if member states did not stop "hostile" policies toward Moscow, the Kremlin's top diplomat in Kabul said.

"(Russian air space) is still open, but if the NATO countries continue to their hostile policies with regard to Russia, definitely this issue will happen," Zamir Kabulov told BBC radio in an interview aired on Thursday.
Russia envoy warns NATO on air space to Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2008

Posted by b on September 19, 2008 at 9:03 UTC | Permalink


fun times ahead,

I'll have a pint barkeep.


Posted by: sabine | Sep 19 2008 9:59 utc | 1

She'd know, wouldn't she? After all, she's the Russian expert.

Honestly, what good is she? Her name has become a punch-line in Russia.

Posted by: Dan | Sep 19 2008 10:07 utc | 2

American exceptionalism again.

Posted by: Alex | Sep 19 2008 10:53 utc | 3

I could puke when ever that bitch opens her bloody mouth...

Posted by: vbo | Sep 19 2008 11:04 utc | 4

Funny that those words are part of Condi's speech at the German-American marshall fund. Somehow we have this vision of a "beaten" Russia similar to that of Nazi Germany in 1945.

But the picture is quite different. Russia is now ascendant, recovering the military and economic weight that it squandered under the latter years of Soviet rule.

The USSR used to have to at least pay lip service to international interests and politics. Now Russian politicians and policy makers are rewarded for being blatantly nationalistic and even more militaristic than the USSR ever was.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 19 2008 11:19 utc | 5

Look at what Russia is up to in Africawhile Rice bickers about their irrelevance. Gazprom wants to pipe the gas that Shell flares in the Niger Delta to Europe.

Posted by: zumbe | Sep 19 2008 11:44 utc | 6

Ralphie, I guess these idiots didn't realise that Russia hasn't been beaten the way Germany was in 1945 - no bombing of half the country, no occupation, no trial of the defeated leaders; it's far closer to the way Germany lost in 1918. What has been overlooked by many is that 1939 Germany was militarily weaker (and weaker compared to France/UK, or "Russia", as they later found out) than it was in 1914 - though it probably had a bigger potential, in manpower, thanks to propaganda notably, and in sheer industrial production.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Sep 19 2008 11:48 utc | 7

The Rise and Fall of the Russian Oligarchs Part 1

The Rise and Fall of the Russian Oligarchs Part 2
The documentary is almost 2 hours in 2 parts

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 19 2008 13:05 utc | 8


yes, I remember after WWI that the German Chancellor greeted the soldiers who "retuned undefeated from the field of battle", after all, they had only signed an armistice at that point...

I worked in Moscow shortly after the collapse of the USSR. I asked a colleague why he retained his Communist party card when they were obviously beaten and irrelevant.

His response was "My pobedim" (We will prevail). Now I know what he meant.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 19 2008 14:00 utc | 9

His response was "My pobedim" (We will prevail). Now I know what he meant.
Can you clarify your point?
I do not see the logic of it.
Same re. various analogies with Germany

Posted by: ursun | Sep 19 2008 14:46 utc | 10

It seems replies 1 thru 9 are former or present party members. Working for the little man with all that big talk did make her irrelevant to me until today, her thoughts and ideas are in this case "spot on" as the english would say,concerning Russia. But Iraq, nothing that Saddam was accused of took place during the Bush's administration. The weapons of mass destruction used on his own people were during the Regan administration (did W wish to convey to people of america that he was smarter and stronger than Ronald Regan)should he (Regan) have. The two (2) wars that she refers to (was one of them gulf war II) one of which gave the US the right to bomb the hell out of Saddam (as Bill Clinton so often did which prompted Saddam to comment "we can't even open up a factory to make baby formula")was it necessary to commit ground forces and American lives. What is the difference between regime change and ethnic cleansing in a land where grudges are held for thousands of years. In a nation that per the Bush administration did not put up a counter insurgence to fight foriegn forces that had invaded it only al qaieda felt it worth fighting for which is why now we have the best military in the world in a police action on the streets of Iraq. Next they will need police to keep the Sunni's and the other guys apart. This is the kind of job that the american military was so humiliatingly (like the russians) denied in Vietnam that Chaney felt america needed to reassert its power. Oh yes the people that Madam Secretary Rice and W put in charge are the same people that invited the Ayatola Komenie to move from Paris to Iraq of course with the blessings of Saddam. Curvball sold US secrets to what government while working for the Bush administration. In the first gulf war Saddam sent his Jets where for safe keeping (the american fly boys really wanted the notches on there guns). As you see I can't fault Madam Secretary for her dealings with Russia but.

Posted by: UTFB | Sep 19 2008 17:39 utc | 11

мы превалируем

we prevail

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 19 2008 17:52 utc | 12

She says idiotic things either because she's an idiot, or because she thinks the neo-cons still have to be appeased, which is an idiotic thought (I could be wrong about that; we'll see).

Posted by: alabama | Sep 19 2008 18:33 utc | 13


my colleague also belonged to Putin's generation of Soviet operatives who already had their own five-year plan: Let the remains of the old guard hang on and completely wreck the economy, running it run down of neglect and hand the remaining profitable sectors over to plutocrats, before coming in to clean things up, i.e., expropriate the plutocrats in the name of the People and reinstitute the "USSR lite" in the Russian Federation.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 19 2008 19:34 utc | 14

This is how the Moscow Defense Brief site sees it:

The final consequences of the five-day armed conflict of August 2008 are not yet clear, but certain trends are already apparent.

First, Russia has for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union demonstrated its capacity and readiness to use force beyond its territory in the defense of its interests. This is a new situation for Moscow's neighbors and international partners alike.

Neighboring states now face the issue of how to guarantee their own security. Their dilemma is clear. One path is to seek the patronage of a strong state from outside of the region, finding support that goes beyond political one, to include real security guarantees. The other path is to conclude an agreement with Russia for the same type of guarantees against external threats, which also hedges against a possible worsening of relations with Russia itself.

For Georgia and, it seems, Ukraine, the choice is clear: they have chosen to seek the support of NATO and the United States. The remaining states of the region will have to give the matter serious thought. For its part, Russia must provide a clear formulation of those vital interests that it will defend with the use of force.

Second, it would be too much to say that Russia is now isolated internationally, since no country except Georgia has broken off relations with it. Nonetheless, Moscow does find itself in something of a vacuum. For various reasons, nobody has supported its actions. Russia's long-noted lack of reliable allies is painfully apparent, and there is now the danger of Russia becoming closer to countries from which it would otherwise keep a certain distance. And they may well exact a high price for their support.

Third, Russia's harsh actions have shown that the West's strategy of gradually assimilating the geopolitical inheritance of the Soviet Union has reached its limit. Russian passiveness in the face of this process can no longer be taken for granted.
The United States and its European allies face the dilemma of taking a strong position, leading toward the containment of the resurgent ambitions of Moscow, or to attempt to find a balance of interests with Russia, recognizing its right to its own sphere of influence. The outcome of this dilemma is not obvious.

Fourth, divisions among Western states and their main institutions (especially NATO) have emerged. As it seeks to consolidate global leadership, the United States has overloaded itself with too many politico-military obligations. Europe is clearly divided between hawks and doves in relation to Russia. As a result, NATO and the EU find it difficult to take a firm stance.

The new and weaker part of Europe supported the American line. The conflict over Georgia could prompt a reformatting of European security structures. Regional alliances, such as one between Central and Eastern Europe plus the United States, could emerge in parallel with NATO, which would turn into a political club.

In theory, one could imagine a genuine discussion on the establishment of a new security system that would include Russian participation, but, judging from the reaction of the West, this option is practically impossible.

Fifth, the basic problem of Russo-American relations has become clear: their strategic horizons simply do not pair up.Russia is a world power with regional ambitions. That is, it is prepared to sacrifice its interests in far-off regions (Latin America, Africa, Near and Far East) in order to preserve its vital interests in Europe and Eurasia. In other words, Russia has a gradation of interests; it has established a hierarchy of priorities.

The United States, on the other hand, is a superpower with global ambitions. As the world leader, Washington assumes that it has no “secondary” interests. Nothing can be sacrificed, and there is no point in making trades, because a compromise in one area will only provoke a domino effect. So, all other powers must be pressured to the greatest possible extent. The result is that the United States is, by definition, incapable of holding a constructive dialogue with anyone.

Sixth, a dramatic conflict of perceptions has emerged. Russia sees its actions as completely justified in political and moral terms. It is completely confident in the justification for its actions. However, this confidence is not shared by anyone else. Moreover, the majority of influential countries hold the opposite opinion: that the actions of Russia, regardless of their motivation, are completely unacceptable.

Russia is sincerely shocked by the reaction of the West, and sees not only a double standard, but also a naked cynicism that exceeds the boundaries of normal politics. This could have far-reaching effects: Moscow may not only reject Western values, but also come to believe that there is no such thing.

Seventh, the very structure of global politics is in crisis. This system has been marked since the 1990s by an absence of systemic confrontation, the emergence of strategic partnership, and steps toward a unified world order based on shared understandings...

In geopolitical terms, there is no such thing as ‘Western values’, unless the desire for unlimited world dominance falls into that category, and I doubt that within the Kremlin’s hall a notion of “the ethical West” has been entertained, at least not since Vietnam.

Not only that, the West’s naked cynicism is easily understood in Moscow – it’s not unlike their own. To become and stay an empire, destroying human lives and causing suffering is an essential policy utensil in any emperor’s tool box, right throughout history, which we know tends to repeat itself.

Russia’s relevance in political terms is underlined by every kilometre of pipeline running from its gas fields to Europe. It is a huge chunk of land between Palin’s Alaska and Merkel’s Germany, and Condi’s wishful thinking won’t change that. Quite contrary. The more and longer the US led West extends its Middle Eastern rampage, the more ‘friends’ will line up at the Kremlin gates for talks on increasing military cooperation.

With every new US incursion into Pakistan or sanction measures against Iran, Russia’s relevance goes up a notch. That the dipsticks responsible for US foreign policy don’t understand that is to be expected, their horizon doesn’t extend that far. The statements imperial orgs like Rice and Bolton utter are a window into their egocentric world view.

This is nothing new though, to be precise about as old as the US itself, and plenty of threads here at the Moon have had this very issue at heart. This self-deluding sense of US exceptionalism, which gave rise to the empire we see today, will also bring about its end. The collapse of Wall Street is just one of many signs that the plunge has started.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Sep 20 2008 3:38 utc | 15

Who Started the Georgian Five-Day-War?
Bush/Cheney; War Criminals are Us.

Posted by: waldo | Sep 21 2008 9:27 utc | 16

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