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The Forum > Article Comments > US-backed Georgia pokes the Russian bear > Comments

US-backed Georgia pokes the Russian bear : Comments

By Tony Kevin, published 22/8/2008

The anti-Russian US media reports on Georgia feed public opinion and favour Republican John McCain.

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To understand the Russian-Georgian conflict it is necessary to stand back from the detail of Ossetia and identify the longer term historical trends. These include:
1.For some time an undeclared war has been waged between the US and Russia over access to the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia. Russia/Gazprom has been largely successful in tying up deals with the various republics.
There are rival schemes for pipelines sponsored by Russia and the US, eg South Stream and Nabucco. One pipeline designed to exclude Russia has been established through Georgia (Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan).
2. The real significance of Kosovo is the vast Camp Bondsteel- the largest “from scratch” foreign US base since the Vietnam War. It will provide security for the construction of the proposed Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian oil pipeline( AMBO) with a terminal in Georgia..
3. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, rather than dismantling NATO, the US, in a spirit of triumphalism, has pushed NATO further and further into Eastern Europe. With Georgia going to extreme lengths to secure membership, and Ukraine a candidate, Russia feels encircled.
4. At the same time, the US has abandoned the Cold War nuclear arms agreements (MAD-mutually assured destruction), and ,instead ,opted for the terrifying doctrine of "nuclear primacy". Implementing this involves establishing the missile bases in Eastern Europe, which Russia believes are designed to stymie its nuclear capacity.
5. There are also dangerous antagonisms, locally ( like Ossetia), and globally Europe feels threatened by a Russian monopoly of energy supplies. On the other side, Russia fears it is back to the bad old days of encirclement. But it is now off its knees, resurgent, and inspired by alarming nationalism and not a little paranoia which derives from the series of invasions it has suffered.
6. In this global conflict over oil and gas, active players also include China and Iran.
7. The intolerable pressures are turning Russia away from Western cultural influences and setting back the processes of democratisation. Worse will follow if it seeks alliances with the backward Central Asian Republics and China – the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation already exists.
Posted by Leslie, Friday, 22 August 2008 10:36:17 AM
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Many well-reasoned remarks in the article. The arrogance of power, which Senator Fullbright wrote about so cogently in his book of that name in 1966, remains in existence and unacknowledged by those wielding it, as much as ever.
1956: Soviet Russia invaded their 1939-44 enemy Hungary, for daring to take an independent stand. 1956: Britain and France invaded Egypt for daring to take control of their own territory, the Suez Canal
1962: Soviet Russia is no more than a bit grumpy about US missile bases right on its border in Turkey. 1962: USA threatens nuclear war over Russian bases being set up across the water in Cuba..
1973 USA arranges a bloody coup in Chile which removes president Allende
1978: Soviet Russia invades Afghanistan to diminish western influence adjacent to its own borders.

1986, the big thaw: USA (Regan) and Russia (Gorbachev) agreed in principle to removing INF systems from Europe and to equal global limits of 100 INF missile warheads.

Great opportunities have not been taken up. They have been lost in the 20-odd years since the thaw. While Russia is not lily-white, in this period it is predominantly the USA which has dismissed cooperation. The arrogance of perceived superior power remains supreme, attended by Mars the God of War having George W. Bush as altar-boy. What hope for the world in the absence of diplomacy and common sense?
Posted by colinsett, Friday, 22 August 2008 4:58:47 PM
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I fully endorse both the article and the comprehensive comments above.

One thing I would add is that the Western media has disgraced itself yet again by failing to challenge the official narrative. Instead, it just creates another version of the standard Western fairytale ... Georgia = little bear. Russia = father bear. NATO = mother bear. USA = Goldilocks.
Posted by SJF, Saturday, 23 August 2008 11:50:08 AM
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1. For a long time now Russia has been trying to use it possession of certain oil and gas infrastructures to recreate its previous influence as a superpower. It has already used the threat of withholding vital oil and gas supplies to bully Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Latvia and this has serious repercussions in Europe where 80% of Russia gas is consumed.

2. The real significance of Kosovo is that the Serbs tried to brutally suppress an uprising there and the world community again took too long to deal with it. Roughly a million people were pushed from their homes, an humanitarian crisis in the heart of civilised Europe. BTW, how exactly did the US manipulate Milosevic into attacking the Muslims and Croats and later the Kosovars so they could roll in and build a pipeline?

3. After the victory over communism there was an even greater need for NATO as clearly seen in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan etc. The desire to join NATO among former Soviet satellite states is palpable and now clearly and entirely justified. It’s not just the US who put great store in NATO by the way. You speak as if Russia had every right to have dominant influence over Eastern Europe. Unfortunately for you and the Russians most Eastern Europeans have experienced life under Russian control and want no part of a renewed Russian hegemony. Those people have NO difficulty understanding the difference between Russian “influence” and Western cooperation, and they overwhelmingly desire no return to the former. Russia might well feel encircled but that does not give them the right to dictate foreign policy of their sovereign nation neighbours. Certainly Russia recent belligerent stance has added to their isolation.

Posted by Paul.L, Saturday, 23 August 2008 2:00:54 PM
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4. This is absolute nonsense. MAD only works when

a. your enemy can be relied upon to have total control of their weapons
b. and has a core decision making group which can be relied upon to make rational decisions regrading the countries best interests

The fragmentation of the USSR and the possible possession of nukes by rogue nations makes MAD fundamentally mad as a policy. Suggestions that Poland’s 10 planned interceptor missiles might stymie Russian nuclear deterrence is ridiculous. Russia has thousands of nukes. 10 interceptor missiles won’t even scratch the surface.

5. Sorry, what invasions has Russia suffered since its superpower days? Dangerous antagonisms like Ossetia and Abkhazia are being STOKED by Russia for their own gain. Certainly Saakashvili acted without thought but he walked into a trap of Russia’s making

6. Among many others

7. Putin has deliberately and successfully reoriented Russia away from liberal democratic ideals and other western cultural influeneces, cementing his own power in the process. His vision for a new Russia is as a superpower and regional hegemon. It will require significant confrontation with the west including NATO as well as with former Soviet satellites. Putin is banking on our current weakness.

8. The problem is that the modern leftist shows his/her concern for others in distress by WORRYING. This worrying confers upon the worrier the status of concerned citizen and allays their need to support a concrete plan of action to actually help those in need.


The western media has discraced itself because it didn’t support Russia (population 150,000,000) and its invasion of Georgia (population 5,000,000). Are you kidding? Russia has been stirring up trouble in its former satellites for years now. Just because foolish Saakashvili fell into their trap doesn’t mean that the Russians are in any way not to blame for their overreaction. Why exactly are Russian troops needed in Georgian territory outside the disputed zones of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Please justify? Where are the UN resolutions which the coalition had before they took action in Kosovo
Posted by Paul.L, Saturday, 23 August 2008 2:11:46 PM
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Thanks for a damn good article Tony.

What a puzzler it all is though, for an armchair conspiratorialist like me. The presence of the Zio-cons had my antennae bristling straight away. Peel away a layer of the onion, there always seems to be another underneath.

By their own admission, the rulers of Israel have been cozying up to Saakashvili, plying him with high-tech war toys, ostensibly to ward off Russia and guard the precious pipelines - so we are supposed to believe.

But check with Google Earth and we discover that the distance from T'bilisi to Teheran is only 880 km flying along the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan. This as opposed to 1600 km from Israel flying over Jordan and Iraq. Put that together with a sudden (seeming) coyness by some US chiefs against supplying Israel with the latest aerial tanker:


Everyone is into Georgia for their own reasons. I get the distinct impression that the old US cold-war dinosaurs are trying to re-ignite the final showdown with Russia that they so badly wanted during their misspent youth. The old crazies - way past their use-by date, are obviously gunning for this - and a younger generation are stepping into their dinosaur excrement.

In my wild erratic fancy, I look at the stunning vista of the Caucasus with it's forests, verdant valleys and tumbling streams - and I sometimes catch a glimpse of a dinosaur out of the corner of my eye....


Was there ever a man who so evoked the animus of the pterodactyl? You know it makes sense!


On a more down to earth note, the Russians have not only blown up the high-tech forward base which was placed in Georgia (using Georgian ammo, so killing two pterodactyls with one stone), but also captured some really interesting plunder:

- and that's only for starters -
Posted by Chris Shaw, Carisbrook 3464, Saturday, 23 August 2008 3:56:50 PM
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