Has Russia really invaded Georgia proper?

(crossposted at Dailykos)
In my previous diary on this topic, I examined the background to the South Ossetian war. Today, I try to examine the current situation in the war.

Yesterday, most of us probably heard the news that Russia had taken the city of Gori, only 40 miles or so from Tbilisi.

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What does Russia Want?

Originally Posted at Voices in the Wilderness

Russia and Georgia have found themselves in military conflict for 3 or 4 days now and there does not seem to be any let up despite calls by The United States and the European powers (demands without weapons in the real world does little to change facts on the ground). The conflict will not stop until Russia has achieved its goal but the real question is what is the end state for Russia?

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Some observations about the Russian invasion

So I'm a little disheartened about the lack of diaries/commentary on this site about the ongoing crisis in the Caucasus.  I've been itching to find a good discussion so I could add my uninformed/off-the-cuff opinions, but it seems the thing to do today is to either relive the primaries, discuss the Edwards soap opera, or post uncritical Obama campaign talking points on the front page.

So I'll make my own damn diary, and opine as I please!  Man I love teh Internets.

1.  This is a major move by Russia, and it has as much to do with Georgian repression of the South Ossetians as the invasion of Iraq had to do with WMD.  Putin's been fucking with his neighbors over gas and oil resources for years now (see: Ukraine in 2005, Belarus in 2007) and this invasion clearly has designs beyond the disputed regions of S. Ossetia and Abkhazia.  Currently, Russian forces are sitting outside of Tblisi, and the Russians have all but acknowledged that they seek full-fledged regime change, probably to control the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline and thereby monopolize fuel deliveries to Europe.

2.  It's a major move against the U.S. Russia's rhetoric has been strongly critical of America, and this move comes against our strongest ally in the region.  Georgia as the third-most troops of any country in Iraq, and has pushed for NATO membership.  Putin is a stone player, and he knows exactly what he's doing.

3.  The U.S. has no sticks to use against Russia, and everybody knows it. Thanks to the Bush administration's systematic squandering of any moral authority the U.S. once had, we have not a lick of credibility in the international community.  Putin has so far steadfastly rebuffed any attempts at diplomacy, and his dissing of Bush and Sarkozy in Beijing before flying directly to the front was basically a major middle finger to that coalition people love to call "The West." What are we going to say?  "You can't unilaterally intervene in another country merely to control their natural resources!" Nope, lost that card.  "Your citing supposed Georgian abuses of the Ossetians is an obvious pretext!" Uh, don't have that one either.

4.  The U.S.'s inability/refusal to come to Georgia's aid is chilling our other allies to the bone. The basic deal the U.S. has made to our allies in recent years has been: "support our adventures in VietIraq, and you'll be on our side, subject to our protection and whatever market aid we can give you." You think Ukraine, Pakistan, Taiwan, South Korea, et al are reassured by our inaction as tanks roll into the Georgian capital?  This is where George W. and the U.S. were hugely popular, and which underwent a rare, peaceful transition into a Western-style democracy--the very transformation we urge on everybody in the world if they don't wanna get regime-changed.  Now they know how good our word is.

5.  Barack Obama needs to step up, like now. His initial statement was kind of wishy-washy, playing the same kind of on-the-one-hand equicovation that people used to use in the Balkans back in the day.  ("The Serbs and the Bosniaks both need to stop the violence!")  And his campaign's statement trying to tie the crisis to its current theme--McCain as corrupt insider in bed with the lobbyists--was a serious misstep.  It made him look petty, small-minded, and out of it.  If I were Plouffe I'd be on the horn to him right now, saying "Barack, this is a major world crisis, you cannot be seen surfing in Hawaii while John McCain is playing statesman."

I've staked a lot of my support for Obama on my belief that he has it in him to be a major statesman and player on the international scene.  Right now, the free press McCain is getting while Obama mellows on the beach only helps him, playing as it does to his campaign's main theme that McCain, not Obama, is the only candidate capable of taking on Putin without being played.  Obama strengthened his initial statement, I was pleased to see--now he needs to come back from vacation and show us what he's got.  How will his multilateral, carrots-and-sticks, talk-to-our-belligerents foreign policy handle this particular crisis?

I want to see it.

[As always: my take only, of course.]

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McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wikipedia

For all of McCain's supposed experience and knowledge of foreign affairs, one would think that he would be able to articulate an original thought regarding the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia.  Alas, this is not the case, unless of course McCain moonlights as an editor for Wikipedia.  Per Political Insider:

A Wikipedia editor notices some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. They appear similar enough that most people would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived directly from Wikipedia.

First instance:

one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion (Wikipedia)


one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion (McCain)

Second instance:

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia had a brief period of independence as a Democratic Republic (1918-1921), which was terminated by the Red Army invasion of Georgia. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 and regained its independence in 1991. Early post-Soviet years was marked by a civil unrest and economic crisis. (Wikipedia)


After a brief period of independence following the Russian revolution, the Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922. As the Soviet Union crumbled at the end of the Cold War, Georgia regained its independence in 1991, but its early years were marked by instability, corruption, and economic crises. (McCain)

http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/politicalins ider/2008/08/did-mccain-plagarize-his-sp eec.html

I imagine that if called on it, McCain would bluster on about Obama's use of a few lines first spoken by Deval Patrick, but this episode arguably strikes at the core of McCain's campaign, which is all about his supposed "experience" in a time of international turmoil.  If anyone would be as well versed on international affairs after reading Wikipedia as McCain, then what exactly entitles him to be President?

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 179

Last week I had a huge influx of readers interested in my piece on Eric Cantor. Seems I'm not the only one thinking McCain might just pick Cantor. I think it's a longshot, but possible.

Things are getting very hectic personally. This may be the last newsletter for a few weeks or more. We will be on vacation in California for a couple of weeks and I will have Grand Jury duty after that. Plus work is exploding for me and Joy's dissertation is overdue. Even politically, I will need to put some extra effort into my friend, Devin Cohen's primary election September 9th. But this newsletter I cover some pretty critical stuff.

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