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August 11, 2008


sackcloth and ashes

The cartoon in today's 'Independent' also gives us some idea of how the 'anti-war' left will eventually respond to this conflict:


Snorri Godhi

Perhaps I am missing something, but Denis McShane's article appears to contain an internal contradiction. Suppose that France elects another Chirac, Germany another Schröder, and Britain another Major: what shape would a common EU foreign policy take? And in fact, even Blair could not stand up against Chirac and Schröder in EU matters, so even 2 out 3 would be a disaster.

A possible solution might be to have a common Franco-German foreign policy, to which the other EU countries could associate themselves, as long as the policy does not consist in selling them down the river. It might be good to have more than one democratic superpower to associate with.

David Boothroyd

If Georgia had been admitted as a member of NATO in April, would Russia have attacked so readily? Part of the reason for NATO is the deterrent nature of Article 5; a belligerent power is unlikely to risk an attack which might bring in 25 additional military opponents.

David Boothroyd

If Georgia had been admitted as a member of NATO in April, would Russia have attacked so readily? Part of the reason for NATO is the deterrent nature of Article 5; a belligerent power is unlikely to risk an attack which might bring in 25 additional military opponents.


If Georgia had been a member of NATO would it have attacked South Ossetia to start with?

NATO didn't get involved in the Falkland Islands conflict, when Argentina invaded.

If Mexico wanted to join Russia in a militay alliance do you think that the USA would want to veto that?


It turns out it's all the fault of the West anyway. I guess I always knew that:


sackcloth and ashes

'NATO didn't get involved in the Falkland Islands conflict, when Argentina invaded.'

NATO did not get 'involved' because the Falklands were outside the North Atlantic area (bounded to its South by the Tropic of Cancer across the Atlantic, then the North African coast). Nonetheless, NATO members (notably the USA and France) offered logistical and intelligence assistance to Britain to help it retake the islands.

Oh, and before you try to correct me, France was (and of course is) a member of NATO (as a political organisation), but opted out of the military command structure in 1966.

'If Georgia had been a member of NATO would it have attacked South Ossetia to start with?'

Under international law, South Ossetia is part of Georgia's sovereign territory. Even Russia is formally committed to the territorial integrity of Georgia (although it has violated this in practice through the military support given to its Abkhaz and South Ossetian puppets). This was not an invasion of a sovereign state, which is what the Russians appear to be up to right now, if the Beeb is reporting things correctly.


Oh no, not the I-love-freedom-and-democracy singsong again ;-/ Russia is "merely" doing what our sole remaining superpower does - bullying its way in for a share of the profit, in this case, what a surprise, oil. And, of course, "policing" its own "back yard".

Further reading:

"This is no pipeline war* but an assault on Russian influence", http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/11/georgia.russia4?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews

* yes, it is


sackcloth and ashes, well 1982 must have been when NATO still adhered to its own charter.

But Georgia was attacking an area patrolled by Russian peacekeepers, what were they expecting exactly as a response?

"Territorial integrity" and "sovereignty" has been ignored by NATO in other parts of the world so they can hardly insist upon it in this situation.


It seems to me that the anti-war left have responded in the manner in which those on the pro-war left anticipated. They will blame Georgia for the aggression by Russia and will blame the USA for encouraging Georgian recklessness (read independence).
Even now the tv stations and journalists are wetting themselves with delight and "sorrow" over a war which they can sound solemn while angling for Plitzer Prizes.
There is all kinds of diplomatic talk to cover the ambition to do nothing over the conquest of Georgia. I sense a sort of appeasing hope that if we just acquiesce in Russian aggression, that it will just stop. Even now the Times is spouting nonsense about Russia in danger of becoming an international pariah.
Russia is in no such danger. It has a seat on the Security Council, a veto there and valuable allies in China and the tyrannies of the Middle East. Above all though, it has Europe by the short and curlies because of the liberal PC group think that has left Europe dependent on Russian gas and the treachery of the German political establishment.

David Duff

"The value of Nato is not only in providing for our collective security."

But it doesn't, and it never has done, and clever, ruthless Mr. Putin has just demonstrated the fact, indeed, he is rubbing our noses in it. NATO was only ever designed to ensure that in the event of a Soviet invasion into western Europe American soldiers would be amongst the first casualties thus ensuring American participation. Today there are hardly any American soldiers in Europe, and such European formations as do exist would find it difficult to fight their way out of a paper bag!

Mr. Putin has done us all a favour by showing up NATO for the gaseous, smoke-and-mirrors phantasma that it is today. And please, no one mention Afghanistan which might *claim* to be a NATO operation (and you might believe it if a fig leaf is all you require as proof) but which is, in reality, a 90% American operation with 5% British assistance and a few rag, tag and bobtail camp followers - like the Germans who are not allowed out at night!

I am surprised at you, Oliver, as an expert in recent Balkan history, putting your faith in the European 'Union' when it took the American air force to actually do something because the squabbling Europeans were helpless, hapless and hopeless. I am still amazed at normally sensible Englishmen who, when it comes to the security of their own country, place their faith in the French, the Germans, the Spanish, the Italians and even, God help us, the Belgians!

We have no national interest in South Ossetia, and not much interest in Georgia, except for that pipeline, but as Putin already has us by the what-nots for a huge percentage of our energy needs, having a bit more is not changing much. Incidentally, our 'steadfast allies', the Germans, are almost totally in thrall to Russia for their energy needs, to say nothing of their huge mutual import/export business, which is why they are desperate not to be involved. I doubt they would lift a finger if Poland was re-invaded!

Mr. Putin and his 'real-politik' might be "Right and Repulsive", Oliver, but you are "Wrong and Wromantic" - again!

sackcloth and ashes

Watch this footage from C4 tonight, and then tell me that Georgia started all this.


sackcloth and ashes

Oh, and if anyone here thinks that Russian 'peacekeepers' in the Caucasus are actually bona-fide peacekeepers, a reality check might be in order. Just ask the Moldovans and the Ingush - for example - what happens when Russian 'peacekeepers' turn up to 'intervene' in local conflicts. They just get deployed to ensure that Moscow's hegemony over its former imperial domains remains intact.

sackcloth and ashes

One final point. NATO intervention in Kosovo happened ten years after the Serb government robbed that province and its population of their autonomy, and progressively ratcheded up an apartheid-style policy that provoked the KLA rebellion, and then culminated in massive ethnic cleansing in March 1999 (which Belgrade falsely claimed was due to NATO bombing).

South Ossetia has been a de facto Russian protectorate since 1992 (despite Moscow's formal commitment to Georgia's sovereignty), and the local population faced no discrimination from the Georgians - who had no authority over them.

Furthermore, as the C4 link I've offered shows, Russia's Ossetian proxies were fighting a shooting war at least a week ago. This clash did not begin last Thursday with the Georgian drive on Tsinkhvali.

Finally, I think we can be sure (from seeing Russia's behaviour in the Caucasus) that if the Georgian leadership was unashamedly pro-Russian, the Abkhazians and the South Ossetians would be thrown to the wolves. It's not about stopping 'ethnic cleansing', it's about restoring Russian imperialism. Period.

David Lindsay

First and foremost, we should stay out of it. (War against Russia, indeed! Clearly Napoleon and Hitler were but pygmies compared to Denis MacShane or Oliver Kamm.)

Thank God that Georgia has not actually joined NATO, or we would already be at war with Russia. NATO should have been disbanded in 1991, when it ceased to have anything to do. But instead, it has been extended to within a few hundred miles of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and it has gone about looking for conflicts from Kosovo to Afghanistan. Let the realisation that we were one treaty signature away from World War Three, a global nuclear war, finally kill off NATO.

Georgia has withdrawn entirely from Iraq in order to fight this war. Perhaps Russia should invade the United Kingdom.

Odd how every microscopic entity in the Balkans that decides to declare itself independent is indulged, even to the point of military force, by the West, whereas those who seek to do the same thing in the Caucuses, objecting to the arbitrary borders imposed by Stalin rather than insisting on the arbitrary borders imposed by Tito, receives exactly the opposite response, possibly even to the point of military force.

If they will submit to the closely connected forces of European federalism, American hegemony and global capital, then even smack-smuggling, women-trafficking Wahhabi who wear black shirts in deference to their SS fathers and grandfathers can declare any bit of soil they like to be their state. But no one who will not so submit can expect anything other than scorn.

We need lots and lots of nuclear power. Then Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be of no more interest to us than Northern Ireland, the Basque Country or the deteriorating situation in Belgium is of any interest to the Georgians, the Abkhazians or the South Ossetians.

Mocked as a throwback to Holy Russia, we should have listened to Solzhenitsyn, not least when he opposed the break-up of what had been the Soviet Union. As in Yugoslavia, and as putatively in Belgium (or Spain, or the United Kingdom), we are now seeing that, once begun, such a process need never end, with talk today of an enclave of ethnic Georgians inside Abkhazia declaring independence.

The pseudo-Left is fond of a wildly decontextualised quotation from George Galloway (not without his faults), in which he describes the end of the Soviet Union as the greatest tragedy of his life. But he meant, not the end of Stalinism, but this. Solzhenitsyn was of the same mind. And they are both being proved right.

Whether in Yugoslavia or in the former Soviet Union, the monarchy should have been restored in the early 1990s. Both in Serbia and in Russia, it very well will be in the twenty-teens. Meanwhile, God Save (as He very well might) The King of the Belgians. God Save The King of Spain. And God Save The Queen.

You are losing this one, thank God. Just as Telegraph readers have never really bought into the theory that a country with neither a European language nor a Christian majority is somehow part of the West at all, never mind the West's front line, so they have never really bought into hostility to post-Soviet Russia, rightly identifying her instead as, in common with all the Slavs (not least including the Serbs), the bulwark, against Islamic and other threats, of the civilisation defined by the Biblical-Classical synthesis.

And today, they have at last started to say so.

Perhaps they have finally realised that Russia's enemies are old Marxists from back in the day. See, for example, the Harry's Place website, which has its roots in Straight Left, the most unerringly pro-Soviet faction within the old Communist Party of Great Britain and among its nominally Labour fellow-travellers, and which therefore opposes the present Russian Government out of support for the only viable alternative, namely the totally unreconstructed Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

Or see the BBC, uncritical cheerleaders for the National Bolsheviks, whose flag says it all: the Nazi flag with a black hammer and sickle in place of the swastika.

These are people who define themselves precisely by their opposition to the Biblical-Classical synthesis, which is the West.

And Telegraph-reading conservatives have either only just noticed, or only just started to say so. Either way, though, better late than never. And welcome aboard.

But without them, who have you now?

Tim Newman

"This is no pipeline war*


* yes, it is

No, it's not. The BTC pipeline was shut down last week after an explosion in Turkey, and the oil price - instead of going up - went down. Over the weekend, during the heaviest of fighting, the crude price dropped $15. This is hardly a sign that the BTC pipeline is crucial to world oil supplies, much less worth fighting a war over.


Here is the proof that Kosovo was still an autonomous province in 1990:


NATO's peacekeeping record in Kosovo is no better. 17 March 2004 for example.

The video doesn't prove anything as the soldiers nor the date and time are identifiable.

Daniel Stark

The thing that really gets me is all of this talk going around that "we shouldn't admit Georgia/Thank god we didn't/too late now." I thought the point of NATO was security assurance that "we are with you" and a deterrence to outside nations, "that we got their back." Otherwise the entire organization is simply symbolic. This isn't to say I would push forward or necessarily support a NATO-Russian war, yet it kind of defeats the purpose of having a NATO if that said NATO doesn't act (in some fashion).


"The pseudo-Left (sic) is fond of a wildly decontextualised quotation from George Galloway"

I find that the proper context doesn't often make George's pronouncements any less awful.

"But without them, who have you now?"

I'm sure the other 59 million plus residents of the UK will struggle on without the support of Telegraph-reading conservatives.

Oliver Kamm

I assume that by "decontextualised", Mr Lindsay means that Galloway's remark has been taken out of context.

No, it hasn't. Galloway was not advancing some notion of national cohesion or territorial integrity. He was referring explicitly to the USSR as a state, and a force in international affairs:

"If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life. If there was a Soviet Union today, we would not be having this conversation about plunging into a new war in the Middle East, and the US would not be rampaging around the globe."

The full interview, with The Guardian in 2002, is here.

But as I understand that Mr Lindsay's new political party, the British People's Alliance, advances biblical creationism, opposition to legal abortion and support for foreign dictatorships, there should be interesting potential for cross-party cooperation with Mr Galloway.

Oliver Kamm

Incidentally, I'm also a tad sceptical that the BBC is an uncritical cheerleader for Russia's principal party of the far Right. I'd be interested to know the supporting evidence.


This has all been remarkably reminiscent of the Red Army invasion of Georgia in 1921 when the Bolsheviks exploited ethnic tension in the country to overthrow Noe Zhordania's democratic socialist government and forcibly incorporate Georgia into the nascent Soviet Union. IIRC The Georgian Social Democrats had won free and fair elections with about 80% of the vote. People like Ramsay Macdonald visited the country and came back full of high praise. The Bolsheviks had signed a treaty recognizing the independence of Georgia, but that didn't stop them invading when the moment was right. Of course, Zhordania was overthrown and has since effectively been airbrushed from history, while the imperialists Lenin and Trotsky are still heroes to sections of the Left (most of them got cold feet about Stalin).

Ronnie the Rabbit

We all know where Lindsay would have been in 1938 - cheering Neville Chamberlein and saying the fate of a remote nation is no concern of ours - in 1938 of course it was Czechoslovakia.

Will the Ukraine be Poland?

For a committed anti-facist he makes strange reading.


Mr Lindsay says: "Just as Telegraph readers have never really bought into the theory that a country with neither a European language nor a Christian majority is somehow part of the West at all, never mind the West's front line, . .."

Countries without European languages or Christian majorities at the frontiers of the West? I think most people in Finland and Hungary would be offended by your claim that they are not part of the West.


I see Lindsay's post is the usual cut-and-paste collage.

Compare his description of Harry's Place above with the ones here, here, here and the second comment here.

Perhaps "David Lindsay" is merely a computer program that's designed to reshuffle the same relatively limited number of core paragraphs over and over again - which would explain the high level of repetition, the prolixity and the incoherence.

Hasan Prishtina

Here is the proof that Kosovo was still an autonomous province in 1990:

Proof? Since Kosova was under martial law at the time, this 'proof' is entirely fictional.

As for NATO's peacekeeping abilities, perhaps 18 March 2008 is rather more relevant and topical.

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