Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Question of Bargaining Chips

The Russians are insisting that the Georgian President, Mr. Mikheil Saakashvili, "must go." The Foreign Minister, Mr. Sergei Lavrov, also says that Moscow will not talk to Mr. Saakashvili..
The US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, says that this demand (reiterated Sunday by the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin), is "unacceptable and crosses a red line."
Of course, I agree with Ambassador Khalilzad that this is outrageous, but I would like to know how he proposes to make the Russian demands unacceptable? With the Russians sitting on Georgia's main communications artery, and the Georgians without the ability to drive them off, or real help from Georgia's US quasi-ally; the Russians are in a good position to get what they are demanding. The military facts on the ground do not entitle the US or the Georgians, however "reasonable" and "equitable" their position may appear -- to insist on anything.
I could wish matters were otherwise, but without means to put pressure on the Russians, or, quite frankly, any manifestation of will by the US to do so -- Ambassador Khalilzad should moderate his tone and try to help extract the best terms for the Georgians from this mess that he can. If the US government finds a way to squeeze on Russia, I'll be the first to support a harder line. Find some chips, Ambassador.

4 comments:

louielouie said...

i wonder..........
if anyone pounded their shoe on the tables at the UN.
if the stasi(did i say that correctly) are dusting off their old uniforms.
it recreate 68 group are behind all this.

Larry Rasczak said...

A couple of quick points.

A) Georgia invaded a Russian client State, on Russia's border, where 80% of the people have Russian passports and are ethnic Russians. This was, of course, incredibly stupid, but it was not an accident. If the Georgians are now going pay for conducting the single largest strategic blunder since June 22, 1941, well that's their problem.

B) NO nation that attacks Russia and then turns to the U.S. and screams "Lets YOU and HIM fight!" in an attempt to protect itself from its own self-inflicted stupidity is a "friend" of the United States.

C) Despite what the morons on talk radio say, this is NOT "a Munich Moment". Neither Austria nor Czechoslovakia, nor for that matter Poland, got into the fix they were in because they sent tanks into what was in effect Germany. This is closer to the French sending troops into the Rhineland than Germany doing so.

And on that note, I am most upset (though not suprised) at the incredible historical ignorance I've heard on the radio of late. Hugh Hewett was reading an e-mail from a self proclaimed "smart guy" who said that ever since 1914 it was "only the U.S." that ever stood up against agression.

I would just like to remind everyone that World War II did NOT start on December 7, 1941, but on September 1, 1939. The war against the Nazis was being carried on by the Poles, the British, the Canadians, the Australians, the Indians, New Zelanders, Dutch, Belgians, Norwiegans, Russians and the French...but mostly by the British for over two years before the USA got involved. Between June 25, 1940 and June 22, 1941 it was the British Empire, and ONLY the British Empire, that was "standing up" against anything or anyone. In fact the ONLY nation that was in WWII from September 1939 to V.J. Day was the British Empire. Not America, not Russia, not even Germany or Japan.

This is worthy of mention for two reasons. 1) Before the chickehawk talk radio drones start to recall their glorious past, they might want to actually get the facts straight, 2) It is important to note that wars quickly "get out of hand". The British were able to carry on alone only at the cost of their national treasure (much of Lend Lease was paid for in gold) and economy, which ultimately mean the sacrifice of their Empire.

Like the U.S. the British military of the 1930s was weaker than it should have been, and was overextended, (especially in Malaya and Singapore). The U.K. found itself committed to a necessairy war, and it was able to preserve the British Isles only though sacrificing its ability to hold on to the Empire.

In short, if the U.S. were to listen to the "chickenhawks" we would likely wind up with a lot more fight than we are able to handle, and the consequences of that could be very very bad indeed.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I might agree with you on some points more than you think, Mr. Rasczak, at least on Georgia. If I have sympathy for them, it's simply because they're very small, taking on a very big, big power that hasn't been too friendly to us in recent history.

As for "lets you and him fight" of course the Georgians will try to interest anybody available in their struggle, however it started. I don't blame them for that: in their place, I would do the same. As Churchill, in a similar position, once said "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

But there is virtually no possibililty of the US becoming involved other than sending the Georgians the odd arms shipment or two.

Of course talking heads and politicians engage in proud talk about "standing up against aggression." That's just what they do, and besides, it's an election year. But it's mostly noise, and should be regarded as such.

You're quite right about the UK of the 30's, but it wasn't only their military that was overextended, it was their whole state.

louielouie said...

larry,
you got a good post there.
but i couldn't get past point A).
that has got to be, imo, one of the dumbest explanations for an invasion.
this is an invasion larry.
can you get your little mind around that concept, or is that impossible for soviet apologists.
anyone else with the problems in paragraph A) would have gone to the UN, but nooooooo not puken.
not the bear.
not mother russia.
it has been 17 years larry.
17 years.
why is this just now becoming an issue?
why now larry?
read your point A) larry.
read it.
i know you wrote it.
read it.
based on your logic, mexico is justified in invading los angeles.
ok, bad example, none of them have any idea of what a passport is.
i'll think of something though.
my money says that the people of south ossetia don't know what a passport is either.
and an extension of your comment would mean that every nation on earth would be justified in invading the US.
told you i would think of something.
now i can tell that you put some time and effort into your comment.
probably pounded your mouse on the table a few times also.
so if i can make a suggestion.
i know, you don't have to take it.
but it is only a suggestion.
save your comment.
save it on your hard drive. but make a back up copy somewhere. flash drive something.
you'll figure it out i'm sure.
now when the soviet union invades poland, or estonia, or latvia, or belarus, or the ukraine, you come back here and post the same blather.
ok?
it will make just as much sense then as it does now.
oh, you might want to proof read, remove georgia, and substitute "nation invaded here" in the comment, or you will look real stupid.