The Revolution is Over

It seems clear they done it; for God knows what reason – arrogance, hoping beyond hope, misjudgment – Georgia started something it couldn’t finish. The Russians, for their part, were playing for it for years; the harassment campaign, the motor-rifle regiments parked up on the southern road. But however wrong they were, I’m saddened by it; they believed in the European dream, in joining Sweden and Venice, far more seriously than they did in America in any practical sense.

Russia has Ledeenised the situation – they picked up some crappy little country and threw it against the wall to show they meant business. Vladimir Putin, who presumably spent the autumn of 1989 cursing in the mess at Yasenevo, turned up to take pseudo-charge in the field; the US advisors exited via the pool at the Sheraton. Isn’t it always the pool, at the Sheraton?

As with Ledeenisation 1.0, we didn’t really offer an alternative nor any resistance. Worryingly, a range of other ex-Soviet states lined up to offer their support to Russia; not that they needed Kazakh divisions, but it’s not hard to see which way this is going. Nicolas Sarkozy would have come off this the worst – he flew in, at last, the Western support, and recommended surrender on terms the Prussians of 1870 would have considered tough, but not before making profile with jet, grin, grip etc as the war went on. Worse, he doesn’t even seem to have checked that the terms were sufficiently humiliating before setting out. He didn’t even deliver that. Carlo Levi’s remark that nothing came from Rome but tax collectors and speeches on the radio comes to mind.

It’s a tale of ugliness and failure, all right. I said Sarkozy would have come off this the worst, but then….Bush administration bungling/stupidity/callousness is nothing surprising any more. But this is truly impressive. One of the good things about NATO, after all, is that it’s a lot harder for two member states to a) not tell the other the Russians are coming or b) not tell the other they’re coming for the Russians.

What now? Well, every wind turbine is a vote for independence. And perhaps Hezbollah should start offering military advisors; after all, they know a thing or three about dealing with an enemy on the other side of a hilly border with many tanks.

12 thoughts on “The Revolution is Over

  1. “Russia has Ledeenised the situation – they picked up some crappy little country and threw it against the wall to show they meant business.”

    According to Human Rights Watch Dutch cameraman Stan Storimans (from RTL) and several other civilians were killed by a clusterbomb.

    See Human Rights Watch:

    Human Rights Watch said Russian aircraft dropped RBK-250 cluster bombs, each containing 30 PTAB 2.5M submunitions, on the town of Ruisi in the Kareli district of Georgia on August 12, 2008. Three civilians were killed and five wounded in the attack. On the same day, a cluster strike in the center of the town of Gori killed at least eight civilians and injured dozens, Human Rights Watch said. Dutch journalist Stan Storimans was among the dead. Israeli journalist Zadok Yehezkeli was seriously wounded and evacuated to Israel for treatment after surgery in Tbilisi. An armored vehicle from the Reuters news agency was perforated with shrapnel from the attack.

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  3. sometimes history results in paradoxes. Maybe the best way to achieve what many neocons claim to want – to stop the re-expansion of authoritarian power, to rally the democracies – is to elect someone the neocons claim to despite – Barack Hussein (there, I said it) Obama. Who will the Germans be more likely to listen to when it comes time to take firm action to prevent a repetition of the Georgia aggression in Ukraine? Who will reluctant Americans listen to? Who can best achieve the bipartisan and transatlantic unity that is needed to counter those who would turn back the gains of 1989?

  4. According to Human Rights Watch Dutch cameraman Stan Storimans (from RTL) and several other civilians were killed by a clusterbomb.

    Setting everything aside, this is prime example what is wrong with West:

    Where was HRW to complain in 1999, when US was using cluster bombs over Niš in 1999, resulting in many civilian deaths? Here are some details how it looks like when US bombs small country:


    During 11 weeks of aggression Nis was targeted for 40 days. It suffered 50 attacks by NATO aviation. 300 missiles was shot onto town. 55 citizens of Nis were killed, both civilians and members of army and police forces. More than 200 citizens of Nis were seriously wounded. The greatest number of civilians were killed by cluster bombs targeted at the city market, Clinic center and residential area of the city. Having in mind that 167 containers carrying deadly cargo with more than 3000 small cluster bombs were thrown onto the city, the number of the killed and wounded could have been even greater. According to the statistics more than 4.000 civilian houses were destroyed or damaged. 98 residential buildings and 3.700 houses where people lived were destroyed during the aggression.

  5. cluster bombs mainly seem to have become a big deal to HRW after the US bombardment of Afghanistan in fall 2001, and then Israeli campaign in Lebanon.

    Some things change that have nothing to do with Russia and Serbia, you know.

  6. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some means to check what HRW actually said at the time? Like, a distributed worldwide computer network with the capability of doing a full-text random search over millions of documents?

    Oh. HRW, May 11th, 1999:

    Though probably no more than a few hundred air-delivered cluster bombs have been used to date in Yugoslavia, there reportedly already have been civilian casualties. A NATO airstrike on the airfield in Nis last week went off target, hitting a hospital complex and adjoining civilian areas. In an earlier incident on April 24, five boys were reported to have been killed and two injured when what was evidently a cluster bomb submunition exploded near the village of Doganovic, fifteen kilometers from Urosevac in southern Kosovo. The munition was described as having a yellow-colored jacket, identical to that of the CBU-87 or RBL755 bomblets….[snip]

    The CBU-89 Gator has been banned under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which came into force in March 1999. The United States has not signed the treaty, but all other NATO members, except Turkey, have. Human Rights Watch calls on the United States not to use the CBU-89 Gator scatterable mine system, because this is an inherently indiscriminate weapon.

    Human Rights Watch condemns NATO’s use of cluster bombs in Yugoslavia, given the proven high dud rate of the submunitions employed. These weapons are indiscriminate in effect—the equivalent of using antipersonnel landmines. Human Rights Watch is also concerned that cluster bombs may be used in attacks on urban centers. This would present a particularly hazardous condition for the civilian population and should therefore be avoided.

    I propose Harrowell’s Law; when a participant in an Internet discussion claims that a given NGO was silent about X, they are always lying, and the NGO’s statements will be within the first 10 Google results. It’s usually Amnesty, but it’s highly generalisable.

  7. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some means to check what HRW actually said at the time?

    Thanks Alex for finding it, I tried various permutations of search terms: Serbia, Nis, Cassette, 1999, NATO on HRW.ORG, but I didn’t find it.

    My apologies — can admin delete my comment above?

  8. But this is truly impressive

    Yeah. Nice article. It has exactly … zero named officials.

    But hey, McClatchy is “pound-for-pound the best news organization in the U.S. since 2001″(thanks Mark!).


  9. You’re still wrong about Iraq, Bob, and there’s nothing you can do about it, no matter how much you bitch at the newspapers.

  10. No, I turned out to be right.(memo: we won).

    Or shall I dig up your absurdly naive and willful commentary? Sure!

    “Wars are about offensives and counter offensives. In terms of the larger picture, I think it’s pretty obvious that the tide has turned against the terrorists. They’re doomed, short of an abrupt and premature US withdrawl.”

    “I’m sorry. I can only describe those quotes as vacuous at best and propagandistic at worst. The first appears to be an exercise in defining down readiness to improve headline numbers – what would convince me would be the US Army permitting an Iraqi (NOT Kurdish or SCIRI) formation to take the lead in a serious (i.e. non-featherbedded) operation in central Iraq and it not being a total clusterfuck.”

    Anyhoo, par for the course. Makes for a good chuckle.

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