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08/12/2008

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In general, I'm with you on freelancing, but

a) we don't know who called who

b) McCain says that he's been over there and met with Saakashvili several times in the past and if so certainly has the standing as a senator to call him again

and

c) didn't we just watch a 2-week European Leader Vacation highlight reel with BNMIO (no crises that I'm aware of, tho)

As a US ally, anyway, I would hope that more US senators than just McCain have reached out to the Georgian president and people, even BNMIO should. It seems a pretty clear-cut and easy case to be supportive of them, and there doesn't need to be any back-channel anything, and certainly not commitment. That needs to be, and so far is, up-front and four-square.

What am I missing here?

McCain has known the Georgian President for a long time, long before anybody knew that this outbreak of war would occur.

McCain's... wait for it... experience on the world stage means that he has connections with various leaders and officials around the world, and can therefore call on them should the shit hit the fan.

Also, I didn't see you getting all defensive when Maliki went and endorsed Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan, which many observers thought a political move (possibly quite shrewd) meant to ingratiate the Iraqi gov't with a potential future Obama administration.

"It seems a pretty clear-cut and easy case to be supportive of them, and there doesn't need to be any back-channel anything, and certainly not commitment. That needs to be, and so far is, up-front and four-square."

Haha. Hahaha. Poor Georgia, yes. I understand that your candidates have to pretend to be tough guys, but there are a quite some reasons why you shouldn’t be supportive of them, one being that Saakaschwili did pretty irrational things. Talking sense back into him seems reasonable but supporting him seems crazy at this point. Don’t get me wrong: the Russians are clearly also not the victims here. But really, there is no real victim here.

I'm not sure why I should get "defensive" about a foreign leader endorsing a policy of an American politician. I guess I forget that Obama is responsible for the actions of people around him in a way no other politician is.

Plus, I don't think that Iraq classifies as an international crisis in the same way that Georgia did a couple of days ago.

And I understand that McCain and the President of Georgia are BFFs.

I'm thinking of this from the point of view of the President. At critical moments, I don't think I'd want anyone screwing around with what information is getting through -- especially someone in the middle of a political campaign. There's too much potential for confusion.

If you're thinking of this from the point of view of the President, then think that it's possible it was green-lighted or even requested by him and/or his staff.

I know, he's too stupid to think through even one level of this international diplomatique, right?

Michael, you sound kind of blue that the old USSR hasn't re-constituted yet. I didn't say or imply that the guy was the next Ronald Reagan. Putin, on the other hand, seems to be angling to be the next Stalin.

Putin's pretty vile, no doubt about it. And I did consider that McCain had POTUS sign-off before he made the call. It seems an unusual diplomatic channel, however.

Having not worked at the highest levels of International Diplomacy, I have no direct experience in this kind of thing. But I know in sensitive business negotiations organizations speak with one voice. If President Bush gave Senator McCain permission to have contact with Georgia, I would assume it was at least partially for political purposes. Why else would McCain feel empowered to talk about it on camera soon after the fact? In which case, I wonder about the wisdom of President Bush, using that back-channel instead of his Secretary of State or Ambassador.

This is clearly not a big deal, but any way I add it up it seems someone took a significant diplomatic risk for the sake of political gain. Were I President -- and we should all thank God I'm not -- I think I'd have chosen to keep the messaging more formal.

But then, I think war is a bad idea almost always.

There's been a lot of apologists out on the blogosphere lately for Russia...

That's been an odd phenomena for sure.

Yeah, I say stick to the facts and suddenly I turn into a Russian apologist. Funny.

It’s not that I’m a fan of Russia, it’s just that both sides have been spreading pretty ugly propaganda, finding truth there is arguably pretty hard. It’s just hard for me to see Georgia as the victim here. They started it (during the opening ceremony of the Olympics, no less) and it doesn’t seem as though they treated Zchinwali very well (to say the least, Russian apologist would maybe claim that you could call that ethnical cleansing). That said: Russia clearly overreacted, was – so it seems – on par with Georgia when it comes to respecting international law (only quite a bit more powerful), but that’s about it for the moment. For further evaluation it seems as though we will have to wait a little until the dust settles (or until we get more reliable unbiased reports from Georgia, i.e. not from Russia or Georgia).

Look, Putin is an autocratic asshole, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking at the facts first. What Georgia did was crazy, and the USA as well as Europe should tell them that if they want to join NATO they shouldn’t do such crazy stuff.

Georgia is not the Sudetenland, Russia is not Nazi-Germany, everything’s not black and white but you should already know that.

Just heard the news: Russians in tanks cruising around in Georgia, now that is crazy. Either the Russian military screwed up pretty badly (i.e. they don’t really have good control over their troops, which is quite scary considering the Russians being a nuclear power and all), or this is a not so subtle hint for the West. That does change things a bit, so not by much.

Like I have any expertise at high-level International Diplomacy...

I just know through my auto-didactic ways that the full story never comes out until 20 or 30 years down the line. I imagine the process has a lot more threads, (including DoS, ambassadors, CIA, DIA, Laura ringing up Pootie-poot's wife, etc.) than we can glean from YouTube videos. If you went purely by that as the sole source and nothing else informing your pov, then sure, freelancing political grandstanding.

Michael, you're right.

Did you see how short that skirt was Georgia was wearing? They were sooo asking for it.

Care to elaborate? I do not think that trivial analogies will get you anywhere in this conflict. They might be even worse than those stupid historic comparisons. Why the need for the unambiguous villain? The world is usually more complicated than that and I would venture to say that this is especially true in this case.

I really don’t want another cold war and I see a realistic chance of accomplishing that goal if the West shows itself to be capable of reacting in a proper way to such a crisis. Not hysterical. It’s not as though nobody was able to react a bit less hysterical. 'Old Europe' (if you will) did for the most part. Sadly this difference in attitude will more likely tear the NATO apart than help preventing another cold war.

Michael, Russia with its outdated military equipment managed to invade a country, according to them and Pravda on the fly, with an invasion force that most military experts agree took months if not years to maneuver, then intentionally shelled and attacked sovereign Georgia territory over and over and over again, repeatedly ratcheding up the intensity of the attacks.

Trying to determine the Georgian limit. Trying to determine how far they can push the Georgians before they finally lost their cool and struck back, and then... like a true passive aggressive, claiming victimhoood while acting on their well planned in advance invasion plans.

Michael, nobody's fooled except for those who want to be. All Russia wanted was the pretext. If not this, something else.

As someone smarter than me said on another site, Georgia's error was responding to Russia's intentional provocation, their sin was wanting to be more like the West.

You know, democratic and free market.

"Georgia's error was responding to Russia's intentional provocation,"

Exactly true. A huge stupid error. Combined with the shelling of Zchinwali that’s exactly why Georgia is not the poor victim here.

"their sin was wanting to be more like the West."

Nah, their sin was making a stupid and crazy mistake.

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