“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Putin Reveals His Soul to EU and NATO. Georgia is Just the Beginning.

Georgian Soldier

Georgia: Vladimir Putin sends emphatic message of global importance
Russia's pounding of Georgia means it will use force to protect all 25 million Russians in states that belonged to the Soviet Union

By David Blair, Diplomatic Editor Telegraph
Last Updated: 6:23PM BST 11 Aug 2008

By seizing the opportunity to pound Georgia with air strikes and military incursions, Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, is sending an emphatic message with global consequences.

The curtain has fallen on the era when Nato steadily expanded into Eastern Europe and onwards to embrace former republics of the Soviet Union - and Russia was able to respond with nothing more than bluster.

Moreover, Mr Putin has demonstrated that the Kremlin will use force to protect the 25 million Russians who inhabit the Soviet Union's successor states, well beyond the mother country's borders.
The importance of this message cannot be exaggerated. Whether the populations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia's two breakaway regions, are genuinely Russian or merely the recipients of passports recently issued from Moscow matters little. Dmitry Medvedev made the crucial point last week when he stated that as Russia's president, he was obliged to protect the "security and dignity" of all Russian citizens, wherever they may live.

Countries ranging from Latvia to Moldova to Ukraine have large Russian minorities. If their presence justified Russian intervention in Georgia, might the same happen in these countries? Is the fighting in Georgia merely a prelude to what lies ahead in nations close to the heart of Europe?

Some Russians in the "Near Abroad" - the term used by Moscow's officials to refer to former Soviet Republics - inhabit clearly defined enclaves, uncannily similar to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Russians of Moldova have carved out the self-styled "Dniester Republic", a small, lawless region which Moscow effectively controls.

Elsewhere, Russian minorities have no enclaves, but they still enjoy significant influence simply because of their size. The 900,000 Russians in Latvia comprise well over a third of the population and the 500,000 in Estonia account for about 30 per cent.

Ukraine is the most crucial link in the chain. This aspiring member of both Nato and the European Union has 11 million Russians, concentrated in its eastern regions and particularly in the Crimea, where they comprise about 70 per cent of the population.
Jonathan Eyal, the head of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said that Russia's key priority was to prevent Ukraine from joining Nato, but further military intervention was unlikely.

"They don't need to do the same elsewhere simply because what is happening in Georgia has already driven home the message that what happens in these Russian enclaves, wherever they are, is for Russia to determine and no-one else," he said.

Mr Eyal said that Moscow's operation in Georgia would serve as a "deterrent" to any other country with a Russian minority. "The message is 'you do not touch any of them because the Russian military is determined to defend them even if it means crossing an international border with their tanks."

Moscow had "indirectly given a military guarantee" to Russian minorities across the former Soviet Union, especially in Ukraine.

This goes beyond merely guaranteeing their safety and the status of any enclaves they may have created. It also amounts to Moscow threatening force against any former Soviet Republics aspiring to Nato membership.

Ukraine was officially promised admission to Nato during the Alliance's last summit in April, although Russian objections ensured that no timetable was given.
When Mr Putin sent the tanks into Georgia, Mr Eyal there was "absolutely no doubt that one of his key calculations was Ukraine".

In essence, Mr Putin was seeking to deter Ukraine from pressing ahead with its plan to join Nato - and Mr Eyal believes that Russia's plan has succeeded.

If so, the balance of power in Europe has fundamentally changed and Russia has, through the use of force against Georgia, seized the power to veto Nato's future membership.

Ukraine is by far the most important of the former Soviet republics. Columns of Russian tanks hundreds of miles from its borders may now have changed its future.


  1. The world changed while MSM is enthralled with synchronized swimming. This is a huge story with consequences for a generation. To this old "Cold Warrior", the war never ended. We beat the bastards once and we will again.

  2. Hell, even we were distracted by Ms May's tat.

    Half way around the world.

    Heard someone say the Russians have bisected Georgia, but ...

  3. The Messiah wants the violence to end and calls for a UN Security Council meeting. Someone should clue the organizer that Russia has a veto in the Security Council.

  4. Campaign advisers clearly feel that Mr McCain is seizing the moment to display his tough national security credentials in a way that will shift US voters behind him.

    Barack Obama meanwhile has been steadily upping his rhetoric after a rather cautious initial response last week. In an election campaign that could hinge on whether or not the Democrat is ready to take on the national security obligations of the presidency it's evident that Sen Obama is trying to demonstrate he can be as tough with the Russian Bear.

    US relations with Russia seem to have deteriorated rapidly this week. The really important question may be whether the US can bring Europe along with it.

    US Ambivalence

  5. Speak for yourself, 'Rat,
    I'm a Walsh Man All the Way.

  6. Your comment in the previous thread reminded me I forgot to post this here, Deuce.
    Did you read it already?
    Westhawk Georgia must switch to unconventional warfare

  7. For a different perspective check out these two articles at

    "Russia bids to rid Georgia of its folly
    By John Helmer

    MOSCOW - One word explains why the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union have obliged themselves to sit on their hands, while Russia's defends its citizens, and national interests, in the Caucasus, and liberates Georgians from the folly of their unpopular president, Mikheil Saakashvili. That word is Kosovo.

    Russia sent troops into the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia to take on Georgian troops that had advanced into the territory. Four days of heavy fighting have seen thousands of casualties and the Georgian forces withdrawing. Russian troops were reported on Monday to be continuing fighting in parts of Georgia, including around the capital Tbilisi.

    Eight hundred years of Caucasian history explain why Saakashvili has brought such destruction and ignominy on his countrymen over the past few days.


    For all Russians, not only those with relatives in Ossetia, the near-total destruction by Georgian guns of Tskhinvali is a war crime. The deaths of about 2,000 civilians in the Georgian attack, and the forced flight of about 35,000 survivors from the town - the last census of Tskhinvali's population reported 30,000 - has been described by Russian leaders, and is understood by Russian public opinion, as a form of genocide. Ninety percent of the town's population are Russian citizens.

    To Russians, the Georgian attack of August 8 looks like the very same "ethnic cleansing", which the US and European powers have treated as a crime against humanity, when committed on the former territory of federal Yugoslavia.

    But Russians view the international war that broke up Yugoslavia as a practice run for breaking up the Russian Caucasus, first by arming the Chechen secessionist Dzhokar Dudayev; then by financing anti-Russian terrorism in the Russian provinces of Chechnya and Ingushetia; and now by the Georgian military thrust against South Ossetia.

    Since the US and the European Union have so recently compelled Serbia to accept the Albanian takeover of Serbia's Kosovo province, the overwhelming Russian view is that this will not be allowed to happen again. "Ossetia is not Kosovo" is a widespread refrain in Moscow today.

    "If [former Yugoslav president] Slobodan Milosevic should be put on trial, the opinion here is - so too should Saakashvili," says a leading Moscow analyst. "

    "Saakashvili overplays his hand
    By Brian Whitmore

    In an effort to prod the West to Tbilisi's side in its rapidly escalating armed conflict with Russia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is invoking the ghosts of Cold War battles past - Moscow's suppression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan in 1979.

    The Georgian leader's strategy is clear. Tbilisi's small army is no match for the Russian military machine. Saakashvili's only chance of success in his bid to regain control of the Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia, therefore, is to globalize the conflict and turn it into a central front of a new struggle between Moscow and the West.

    "What Russia has been doing against Georgia for the last two days represents an open aggression, unprecedented in modern times," Saakashvili said in a televised address on August 8. "It is a direct challenge for the whole world. If Russia is not stopped today by the whole world, tomorrow Russian tanks might reach any European capital. I think everyone has understood this by now."

    So far, the West has not taken the bait."

  8. "MOSCOW - One word explains why the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union have obliged themselves to sit on their hands, while Russia's defends its citizens, and national interests, in the Caucasus, and liberates Georgians from the folly of their unpopular president, Mikheil Saakashvili. That word is Kosovo."
    Kind of cuts himself off at the knees right at the start, Ash:
    For the sake of argument, I'll grant you he is a War Criminal.
    For the sake of argument (and it is no doubt TRUE) that he is extremely unpopular in the breakaway regions.

    But this guy gives his hand away by claiming he was unpopular with GEORGIANS, as tho they would be GLAD to be "saved" to enjoy once again the tender mercies of a New Soviet Russia.
    Hard to IMAGINE anything farther from the truth.

  9. Also:
    I, and many others here spend part of our time criticising Bush, the GOP, etc.

    You, otoh, give away your lack of reflection by not even pausing to take the time to criticise someone as corrupt and fascistic as PUTIN!


  10. I have no knowledge of Putin's corruption but he certainly is a totalitarian leader. I do not like what he is doing in Russia though it is understandable given the way "democracy" and "capitalism" was introduced to the county. Many yearn for order.

    The Georgian leader did have opposition to his doings. A Russian invasion though will most likely galvanize support behind him and shut the opposition up...or not if they are able to keep at it an claim the invasion is his fault. Georgia was a democracy with a vibrant opposition it seems.

  11. Looks like the Russkie A-Stars is goin for the Gold, eh? My, my . . . . the world just got more intrestin

  12. The Russians could stop now, having come to the aid of their ethnic friends, but it looks like they are heading for Tbilisi.

    What am I hearing about all these naval units heading for the Gulf?

  13. Thanks for the link Doug. I had not read it. It is obvious that the Georgians cannot match the Soviets in the Valley of the Ork, but look at those mountains. Snipers baby. IED's. Punish them with the geography. Moscow subways. Punish the Soviets. Burn them.

    Give them what the Afghans gave them. Give them another dose of what they did to us in Viet Nam. God help me, I hate the bastards.

  14. Here it is about naval forces.

    And, Here too.

  15. "though it is understandable given the way "democracy" and "capitalism" was introduced to the county"
    Not surprised, just disgusted, but what's new?
    As though the only answer to anarchy, corruption, and disorder is ORDERLY CORRUPTION!

  16. That's Wretch's latest topic, Deuce.

  17. If we had balls, those Georgian Guerillas would be the most thouroughly equipped, high tech mofo killers in history.
    ...but, of course, we don't!

  18. "I have no knowledge of Putin's corruption "
    Like the Messiah, kind of hard to disguise your ignorance when you whole life's been spent intentionally not seeing one side of every issue!

  19. "your whole life"
    (by all appearances, this latest being a stirling example)

  20. Is Pooty Corrupt? According To All The Old Religious Conceptions--To The Core

    This article just taken at random, hundreds of others floating around. It is interesting though, as the writer mentions Pooty wanting to go into Georgia--two years ago, this was written.

  21. Putin appears to be a KGB guy of the old mold. He rules with an iron fist and he seems to have cleverly maintained power while following the Russian constitution. Still, corruption implies he is cheating to line his and his cronies pockets. From what I've seen all indications are he is a ruthless ruler who only pays lipservice to the 'rules' (i.e. the constitution), he is a fascist law and order kind of guy who does not appear, like many African rulers for example, out to simply line his pockets. To all appearances he genuinely believes in the righteousness of his fascistic iron fisted rule.

  22. Ash, he's turned Russia into a country whose major resources are owned by his buds in the old KGB and the new whatever it is called. You might argue this is somewhat better than the old way, under the czar, and then later the commisar, but the arguing is tough sledding.

    Since I like you, I'll offer to bump off the person of your choice, for your birthday:)

  23. Two interesting observations tonight. Charles Krauthammer says that within a couple of weeks, Russia will install a puppet government in Tiblisi. Glenn Beck says its all about Russian control of energy. The BTC pipeline which runs through Georgia.

    IMHO control of the pipeline is a bonus. The real purpose here is the signal to the old satellite states. Putin is saying, "I'm baaaack."

    Ash's references point to the general feeling in Europe about Sakashvili. They think he's a hothead who was trying way too hard to get into NATO. To them he is a "nationalist" who ran on a platform of reuniting the breakaway regions. They suspect he was trying to fulfill campaign pledges. Of course, the Euro's, particularly some of the English, think anyone displaying a flag is a "nationalist."

    The bar flies can't be expected to know all the intimate details of foreign affairs but it seems to be that we had a consensus that the US position on Kosovo was a mistake. We also pretty much agree that Putin and company are thugs. Now we find out that some backwater in the Caucuses has been a "frozen warzone" policed until last week by Russian peacekeepers. Now, we're told that anybody who knew anything about the region thought that this was inevitable. In spite of that "common knowledge" it certainly seems that the world was caught flatfooted.
    The question now is, what do we do? If Krauthammer is correct and the Russians will not stop until they control Georgia, what will the world do and how will they view Russia?

    The byword of this generation seems to be "engagement." Globalization, don't cha know?

  24. Dick Morris says that if Russia does not leave Georgia soon, Ukraine will soon become the newest member of NATO.

  25. He seems to be placing the levers of power in the hands of the government (KGB currently dominates) as opposed to in the hands of those individuals which originally grabbed it after the fall of the Union. Marginally better but totalitarian for sure. Corrupt, I'm not so sure.

  26. whit, I'm certainly no expert on the region, but my guess is that Russia will consolidate control in Georgia and Ukraine will be the next 'red line'.

  27. Corrupt is not the one word I would use for Putin. Gangster may be more appropriate. What he and his KGB buds did first to Yukos and more recently to BP are prime examples of the squeeze the mob puts on its "business partners". We saw how it's done on the Sopranos. You get leverage on someone, you take a large stake in their company and before long, you're the majority owner enjoying the riches while your partner busts his ass to keep the business going and his head above water.

  28. More like a line in the sand that gets redrawn after each advancing and menacing step.

  29. Whit, The Soviet model in East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Afghanistan was to liberate and then recognize a new puppet regime which they installed. The Slavs are real creatures of habit.

  30. Don't kid yourself, these guys may be nationalist but they're also making huge fortunes.

  31. whit, I see your mafia allusion but there seems to be some difference when a group is seizing these assets for their own (criminal use) versus for the governments use. Kinda like nationalization vs. independent criminal gangs.

  32. "making fortunes" as our elite do as well. Think Cheney and Halliburton.

  33. Ah, gee, Whit, your disillusioning me and Ash!

    Stay Behind
    ht Canoneer

  34. oops, forgot:
    Ash us Undisillusionable!
    What Corruption!

  35. Christ, Ash, Bush's immigration policy is based on corruption!
    Open your frigging eyes!

  36. How is this possible?

    US military surprised by speed, timing of Russia military action

    Aug 11 06:24 PM US/Eastern

    The US military was surprised by the timing and swiftness of the Russian military's move into South Ossetia and is still trying to sort out what happened, a US defense official said Monday.
    Russian forces surged into the breakaway region last week after weeks of clashes, threats and warnings between Tblisi and Moscow which culminated August 6 in a two-day Georgian offensive into South Ossetia.

    That the two countries were on a collision course was no surprise to anyone, but the devastating Russian response was not expected, officials said.

    "We were tracking it earlier in that week and we knew that things were escalating," said a military official, who asked not to be identified. "I can tell you it moved quicker than we anticipated that first day."

    I would think the obvious answer is they planned it well and for a long time.

  37. You're and Asshole Ash! adult that likes to argue like a 12 yr old!

  38. It wouldn't surprise me to see the eastern Europeans fall back into the Russia sphere. Europe is hostage to Gazprom and will do not nothing more than protest.

    The next year or two should clarify whether the US should pull back somewhat in the world.

  39. "I would think the obvious answer is they planned it well and for a long time."
    ...and much of it was covered in open sources, but some people manage to remain surprised, nonetheless!
    Who else but government workers!

  40. If we don't start drillin, we'll pull back and starve!

  41. Same for the Ukraine. Moldova is toast.

  42. Let the Serbs take another run at the Albanians.

  43. nothing more than protest.

    Frankly, I don't think the US will do much more than that ourselves. What's the point? We've seen that the world has no will to defeat evil. So, why should we spend our blood and treasure on those who will not spend their own?

    This crap's getting deeper by the day and we are getting very close to a serious reevaluation of our role in the world.

  44. Speaking of crap, anyone heard any comment from Gerhard Schroeder?

  45. I heard tonight that while the fears of a European recession are growing, the bright spots have been in Eastern Europe which have had 5-6% growth. As long as they buy Russian gas and don't try to join NATO maybe they will be allright.

  46. "Speaking of crap, anyone heard any comment from Gerhard Schroeder?"
    I heard him say it was invigorating, in that Putin's MO reminded him of his youth, when he'd beat up police with a stick and kick them when they were down!

  47. Membership of NATO

    Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, all members. Poland practically considers itself the 51st state. Ukraine, Moldovia next on the chopping block.

  48. Does The Post identify any vital U.S. interests that justify intervention? No.

    It demands that we become involved in another military conflict on the basis of the "principles at stake" and the "terrible signal" it would send were we to keep out of this faraway conflict.

    The real principle at stake here is whether the United States is going to continue being an imperial global policeman or whether we are going to return to the principles on which this nation was founded. I am sure both presidential candidates will feel compelled to weigh in on the Russia-Georgia conflict.

    Letters to the Editor

  49. Georgia on our Conscience
    By the Editors

    Though the order “Lights, camera, action!” was given by Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, the wartime drama now unfolding in the Caucasus was devised, scripted, directed, and produced in Moscow by Vladimir Putin and his fellow siloviki (or former KGB kleptocrats.) For almost two decades Russia has sought to divide and destabilize the new independent states in its former backyard by helping to establish, finance, and protect “breakaway” ethnic statelets such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia within the sovereign territory of Georgia.

    These statelets fulfill two important functions.

    First, they provide the siloviki with country estates. Almost none of the officials in the South Ossetian government are locals. Most are high-ranking former KGB officials from other parts of Russia. But South Ossetia provides them with a safe haven in which they can launder money, run smuggling operations, traffic in women, divert official funds into their pockets, and wage small but useful wars. Those wars are the second function: They help to destabilize independent states, especially pro-Western states such as Georgia, already weakened by division. South Ossetian “forces” have been bombing Georgian villages at irregular intervals for years, but recently more intensively.

    from NRO Article Here

    "Launder money, smuggle, traffic in women" A nuclear armed criminal gang working out of country estates.

  50. If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.


  51. The bombs that are falling on us, they have an inscription on them: This is for NATO. This is for the US


  52. Did Condi Rice see this coming? Her gig was Russian history. The Russians have always been jealous of their buffer zones. Russia's been invaded three or so times in the last couple hundred years. Then there's Putin saying the collapse of the Soviet Empire was the worst thing to happen in the last century. What's Condi advising now, considering the Ukraine? Active minds want to know, since we've now seen for sure the soul of Putin.

  53. Why has not Russia accepted the ceasefire offer now that it holds control of the situation in the Caucasus and why has not it disclosed its aims? Zbynek Petracek asks elsewhere in Lidove noviny.

    Because it is the Kremlin, which has always been secretive, Petracek answers his own question.

    "We, nevertheless, already know that the Kremlin's goal is not the return to the status ante, i.e. to the situation on Thursday, August 7. The rest can be only speculated about, but on the basis of a certain experience.

    Czech Press Survey

  54. McCain took an inflexible approach to addressing this issue by focusing heavily on one side, without a pragmatic assessment of the situation," ..."It's both sides' fault - both have been somewhat provocative with each other,"
    - Mark Brzezinski, a former Clinton White House National Security Council member and adviser to the Obama Campaign.

    New Cold War--American Thinker

  55. "The real principle at stake here is whether the United States is going to continue being an imperial global policeman or whether we are going to return to the principles on which this nation was founded. I am sure both presidential candidates will feel compelled to weigh in on the Russia-Georgia conflict."
    That one is getting VERY old, in that simple minds use it promiscuously as a Moron's WMD, namely, either we do nothing, or we must involve ourselves as stupidly, expensively, and for as long as we have been in Iraq.

    Such Black and White choices are just two of the MANY options that are almost always available.

  56. Hey, al-Bob,
    and the MESSIAH, otoh, knows that the UN will solve all such problems for us.
    Maui Wowee, the Messiah Goes Hawaiian!

  57. I posted that great NRO piece @ BC.

  58. "It's both sides fault, that's why the Soviets have a right to RUBBLE GEORGIA"
    My Ass!

  59. Russian president halts military action in Georgia -

    At the same time, Medvedev ordered the military to quell any signs of Georgian resistance.

    "If there are any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions, you should take steps to destroy them," he told his defense minister at a Kremlin meeting.

    "Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow won't talk to President Mikhail Saakashvili and Saakashvili "better go.""