Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Russian Troops Invade From Abkhazia

BBC.com is reporting that Russian troops have crossed the disputed border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.  They have either taken or are about to take the city of Sanaki.  This latest move by Russia makes it painfully clear that they intend to take the entire country and install a new government.  Indeed, that is exactly what Georgian President Saakashvili says they are going to do.  

18 comments:

USWest said...

This is a very good article from The Economist that gives some background and history to the issues in Abkhazia.

USwest said...

I'd point out that Ethnic Georgians, who were once the majority in this area, were run out of Abkhazia in the early 199s, which is partly what added to tensions.

In South Ossetia, I am told, there were villages, one Georgian, one Ossetian all over the region. They had self segregated, but still lived together. Does this all sound familiar? I am still seeing Bosnia and Kosovo all over again in this situation.

USwest said...

Ok, me again: sorry:

Another good article from the Aug 7 edition of the Economist discusses the demands of both sides.

"Russia also wants Georgia to give a formal guarantee that it will not use force in either breakaway region. Georgia thinks that unless its refugees can return this would amount to de facto recognition of the secessionists. It wants a stronger OSCE presence, demilitarisation, and international (not Russian) peacekeepers. It also wants joint Georgian-Russian control of the Roki tunnel under the Caucasus mountains. This, Georgia says, is used both for smuggling and for illegal reinforcements to South Ossetia."

Organized crime is a real threat in this area. It isn't imagined. Much of it is weapons smuggling that feeds other conflicts around the world.

Raised By Republicans said...

Organized crime is something I thought of when I was reading the bios of the Russian puppet leaders. Their man in South Ossetia supposedly owes his win the election to support from one family. How do you say Corleone in Ossetian?

It really is a shame that we can't do anything to stop these thugs. I suppose the only thing we can do is recognize the current Russian regime for what it is and adjust our relationship accordingly.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Yes, we should recognize the current Russian regime for what it is, not as the USSR reincarnated or a new Nazi Germany.

I do not believe the Russian army intends to take Tblisi or install a new government. It could be the case, but there is not much indication of it yet. The aim appears to be to seize control of Abkhazia and S. Ossetia, plus to punish Georgia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been breakaway areas (from Georgia) for quite some time. I do not think the Russians desire to be bogged down in an extended conflict in Georgia proper, as would happen if they installed a puppet there.

Organized crime is a real threat from the Caucasus. This threatens Russia as much as it does other states in the region. Some of Russia's behavior in the region is attributable to the fact that it has been unable to control the tight-knit tribal organized crime groups which (to be frank) interfere with Russia's own mafia in the Russian heartland.

Raised By Republicans said...

What this Russian government is definitely NOT is a bunch of democratic reformers doing the best they can in a difficult situation (LTG's vision of them).

While they aren't as bad the USSR or NAZI Germany they are bad enough to complain and accuse them of being a bunch of thugs.

Invading Georgia (even IF they were provoked as sorely as LTG would like to think) is not the act of democratic leaders trying to lead a reluctant country to a brighter future through liberty and prosperity. It is the act of your average, run of the mill, dictator using wars of aggression to distract the masses from their troubles. AT BEST, Putin is the G.W. Bush or Silvio Berlusconi of Russia. At worst he's a new Stalin in the making. I think it is more likely that he's Hugo Chavez with more brains and nuclear weapons.

Raised By Republicans said...

If Russian leaders are so concerned about organized crime in the region why have they put two guys in puppet positions down there who are widely rumored to have ties with organized crime?

Also, there are rumors that Putin and Medvedev have made themselves rich by skimming things here and there at Gazprom.

Dr. Strangelove said...

It is in Russia's best interest to maintain weakened, cowed states on its borders, rather than to attempt to conquer them and deal with all the attendant problems of doing so. They have learned from the Afghanistan debacle.

Dr. Strangelove said...

For what it's worth, Gorbachev takes pretty much exactly LTG's position on the conflict.

Raised By Republicans said...

Some things I've learned in all of this is that Russia started out by egging Shevardnadze on. The Shevardnadze regime was characterized by a lot of war lords and criminal gangs who he cut loose in Abkhazia (with support from Moscow!). Then Moscow switched sides and came to the rescue of the Abkhaz.

So it is particularly disingenuous for Gorby to set up a kind of Georgian Alleinschuld in this. It was GORBACHEV's man in Georgia who started this. The current government in Georgia has proposed restored autonomy for these regions under a democratic regime and been refused (often with violence).

The Law Talking Guy said...

RBR, I do not think that the current regime in Russia is a bunch of democratic reformers doing the best they can, and I have never said that. I have said that, given Russia's incredible history, the current crop of semi-authoritarian elected leaders is not at all bad. Democracy and liberty are no worse off in Russia today than in Turkey a few years ago, indeed perhaps better given that Russia has avoided a military coup and Turkey regularly had such things. It is way better than China, where we already pursue a policy of constructive engagement. Under these conditions, the proper reaction to Russia is constructive engagement and encouragement of democratic reforms, not hysterical reactions about the Bear on the Rampage. Not insulting them, as McCain did (all I see is "KGB"). Not slamming Pravda as biased (which it is), but then quoting the Georgian president as if he were George Washington or William Wallace.

I just read Gorbachev's piece. It's much more defensive about Russia than anything I've seen him say or do in years, suggesting that he's also disappointed by the totally uncritical attitude the West has taken to Georgia, or the view I've heard on this blog that because Georgia is smaller than Russia, it could not logically bear any responsibility for the situation.

Raised By Republicans said...

Actually, LTG you said almost exactly that the last time we had this argument about what a stinker Putin is.

You made the argument that he should only be judged in the context of the widespread criminality in Russia and that while was cracking down in ways Americans wouldn't like, it was neccessary for progress in Russia.

The Law Talking Guy said...

No, RBR. I did not say that Putin's crowd are "democratic reformers doing the best they can in a difficult situation." I did make the argument that the Russian situation should be judged by its context of widespread criminality and lack of experience with democracy. That's quite a bit different from labeling Putin as a "democratic reformer"

Here are the quotes: (1) "Russia has been making it all up as it goes along, and dealing with national humiliation and bread lines to boot. Give them a break. They've found a leader who won't open gulags, won't erect statues of himself, and will take leave of office on time. They've secured market freedoms and basic personal liberties. That's major progress for Russia. No wonder they like Putin. I don't blame them. And I don't think he's anything more than a transitional phase on the path to greater liberty in the future. One thing's for sure, he's no revanchist."

(2) "Although Putin has proven hostile to opposition parties and opposition media, he has hardly abolished freedom of speech. Russia is not a totalitarian country anymore. People are free to express themselves to their friends and family without fear of reprisals or the gulag. They are free to worship as they please and to travel abroad. They are free to own property and engage in business. Democratic and constitutional forms are taking root. When Putin wished to continue his rule, he didn't change the constitution - he accepted the need to leave the Presidency and took another role (prime minister). This is real progress, people."


(3) "Russians know in their bones, if not in their heads, that life in 2008 is the best it has ever been for them. Think about that for a while."

So what I keep saying is that Putin's regime is much, much better than any government before him except Yeltsin and the last couple years of Gorby. Treating him as if he is Stalin or Hitler is just wrong and stupid. But no, he's not a democrat and he's not one of the pro-westerners like Yabloko.

Raised By Republicans said...

You used to say he was better than Yeltsin (and his "oligarchs") too so I take it you've modified your position.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I never said, nor believed, that Putin he was better than Yeltsin in terms of being more disposed to democracy or freedom of the press. I HAVE said he is a better leader for Russia, since Yeltsin was prone to weakness and anarchy. Yeltsin's government, for example, never legalized private ownership of land (most people think this was done in 1991; it wasn't). Yeltsin's Russia was also poorer and prone to hyperinflation. Russia is better off now than it was 8 years ago.

No modification of my position as to whether Putin is a *democrat* or that he is probably the best kind of leader we could reasonably expect Russia to have at this point in time. It was never reasonable to think Yavlinsky would take over. I have, in response to events, come to the conclusion that he is more aggressive in foreign policy now than in the past. That saddens me.

USWest said...

I'd have to agree with LTG here. Yeltsin was a drunk and Russia was done by nob rule. Now its legalized mob rule.

Raised By Republicans said...

A drunk is better than a tyrrant.

Dr. Strangelove said...

That reminds me of my favorite line from "Chicken Run" where the determined heroine Ginger exhorts her comrades, "We'll either die free chickens or we'll die trying!" to which the hesitant response comes, "Are those the only choices?"