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Contradicting the 'West' bashing

by Martin Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 04:13:12 PM EST

I have to strongly disagree with several diaries and comments, both posted here in ET (e.g. The Ruskies are back. Praise the Lord!) or at dkos in Jerome's most recent diary.

The narrative is, that the Western press would unanimously condemn Russia and generally ascribe Putin as  'evil' compared to the 'good' west.

For the beginning I want to start with translation of an article from the pro-atlantic, conservative German newspaper FAZ, which was earlier this day on their online front page at the top:
Zerwürfnis in der Nato
Politik des leeren Stuhls


   


   
Zerwürfnis in der Nato / Politik des leeren Stuhls

[by Nicolas Busse]

Schneller als selbst Pessimisten befürchtet haben, führt der Krieg in Georgien zu einem ernsten Zerwürfnis in der Nato. Seit Beginn dieser Woche haben mehrere Sitzungen im Brüsseler Hauptquartier des Bündnisses stattgefunden, die tiefe Meinungsunterschiede zwischen den 26 Verbündeten zu Tage gefördert haben - über den Umgang mit Russland und über die Frage, ob die Nato sich auf die Seite Georgiens stellen soll.



Dabei bilden sich wieder die zwei Lager aus der Irakkrise heraus: Amerikaner mit Briten und Osteuropäern auf der einen Seite gegen Westeuropa unter der Führung von Deutschland und Frankreich auf der anderen Seite. ,,Dieser Graben wird immer tiefer", sagt ein Diplomat.



Unmittelbarer Anlass sind die Sitzungen des Bündnisses mit Russland. Schon am Dienstag hatten die Amerikaner dazu beigetragen, eine Zusammenkunft des Nato-Russland-Rates zu verhindern, indem sie einem Vorbereitungstreffen demonstrativ fernblieben. Die Russen selbst machten die Sache allerdings nicht einfacher, indem sie verlangten, den Rat vor einer Zusammenkunft der Nato-Botschafter mit dem georgischen Botschafter abzuhalten, was nach Auffassung der meisten Verbündeten terminlich nicht möglich war.



Manchen Diplomaten schwante da schon, dass die ,,Politik des leeren Stuhls" nur ein Vorbote eines neuen harten Kurses Amerikas gegen Russland sein würde. Tatsächlich traten die Amerikaner von Mittwoch an in der regulären Sitzung des Nato-Rates und anderen Gremien ,,sehr aggressiv" auf, wie aus dem Bündnis zu hören ist.



Sie verlangten, dass eine russische Fregatte nicht wie geplant an der Operation ,,Active Endeavour" teilnehmen darf, einem Antiterroreinsatz des Bündnisses im Mittelmeer. Das Schiff liegt schon in einem türkischen Hafen, sein Einsatz wurde vom Nato-Rat bereits gebilligt. Außerdem beantragten die Amerikaner eine Sondersitzung der Nato-Außenminister am nächsten Dienstag in Brüssel, blockierten aber sämtliche Versuche, zu diesem Termin auch einen Nato-Russland-Rat abzuhalten.



Einen regulär geplanten Rat, der für Oktober bei einem Treffen der Verteidigungsminister in Budapest vorgesehen war, möchte Washington abgesagt sehen. Unterstützung erhält die amerikanische Regierung dabei von vielen osteuropäischen Staaten. Die schlugen zum Beispiel vor, im Oktober in Budapest ein Treffen der Nato-Ukraine-Kommission abzuhalten, obwohl einige Wochen später ohnehin ein solches Treffen vorgesehen ist. Das wäre ein feiner diplomatischer Nadelstich gegen die ausgeladenen Russen, denn die Nato hat der Ukraine zusammen mit Georgien im April versprochen, eines Tages aufgenommen zu werden.

Und außerdem verlangen viele Osteuropäer eine robuste Antwort auf eine acht Punkte umfassende Bitte um Hilfeleistung, die der georgische Botschafter am Dienstag dem Nato-Rat übergab. Sie wollen, dass die Nato ihre Schnelle Eingreiftruppe NRF nach Georgien schickt, Awacs-Aufklärer sowie eine hohe Delegation ihres Internationalen Stabes.



Anführer des osteuropäischen Lagers sind momentan die Tschechen, die sich als ,,besondere Scharfmacher" hervortun, wie aus dem Bündnis zu hören ist. Zu der Gruppe gehören die drei baltischen Staaten, unter denen besonders Lettland hervortritt, sowie Polen. Ungarn und Slowenien sind dagegen zurückhaltend, sie sprachen im Nato-Rat bei der Bewertung des Krieges sogar ausdrücklich von ,,georgischer Aggression".



Bulgaren, Rumänen und auch Türken scheinen den Krieg dagegen eher als regionales Sicherheitsproblem aufzufassen, sie redeten vor allem von einer Bedrohung der Schwarzmeerregion.



Unter den westlichen Verbündeten sind Großbritannien und Kanada am stärksten auf der amerikanischen Linie. Dem westeuropäischen Lager unter deutsch-französischer Führung werden Italien, Spanien, Belgien, Luxemburg, Portugal und Norwegen zugerechnet. Die Dänen seien zurückhaltend, hätten aber auch von ,,russischer Aggression" gesprochen und die amerikanische Formulierung von der ,,unverhältnismäßigen Anwendung von Gewalt" übernommen.



Den Westeuropäern, vor allem den Deutschen, geht es dem Vernehmen nach um zwei Dinge. Sie wollen die institutionellen Verbindungen zu Russland nicht kappen, um weiter einen Dialog zwischen der Nato und dem Land führen zu können. Und außerdem sind sie der Meinung, dass die Nato hier ohnehin nichts zur Konfliktlösung beitragen kann, weil im Augenblick vor allem die EU und die OSZE im Einsatz seien. Es wird sogar in Frage gestellt, dass die Nato überhaupt auf das georgische Ersuchen reagieren muss, da es sich ja um ein sogenanntes ,,non paper" handelt, also keine formale Anfrage.



Das amerikanische Vorgehen erklärt man sich zum Teil mit Verärgerung darüber, dass Amerika zunächst an der Konfliktlösung nicht direkt beteiligt war, sondern die EU unter französischer Führung einen Waffenstillstand aushandelte. Einige sehen in Außenministerin Rice eine treibende Kraft, weil das Weiße Haus ursprünglich in der Frage einer schnellen Heranführung Georgiens an die Nato lange gezögert habe.



Nach Meinung von erfahrenen Diplomaten in Brüssel bricht hier ein Grundsatzkonflikt über das Wesen der Nato auf, der seit Jahren unter der Oberfläche schwelt. ,,Wenn Sie die neuen Mitgliedstaaten fragen, warum sie in der Nato sind, dann sagen die: wegen Artikel 5", berichtet ein Kenner der Allianz. Dieser Artikel enthält die Beistandspflicht der Verbündeten und wird von vielen Osteuropäern als Überlebensgarantie gegen Russland betrachtet. Frage man hingegen die alten Verbündeten in Westeuropa, dann redeten die von Auslandseinsätzen und Friedensmissionen. ,,Artikel 5 kommt da praktisch gar nicht vor."



Die Osteuropäer dagegen seien besorgt, weil die Nato auf Stabsebene keine Übungen mehr zur Abwehr eines russischen Angriffs abhält. Die Russlandpolitik der Nato war in den vergangenen Jahren nach Einschätzung von Diplomaten stärker von der osteuropäisch-amerikanischen als der westeuropäischen Sicht geprägt. Die Aufnahme neuer Länder aus dem postsowjetischen Raum wurde als Ausdehnung des westlichen Schutzmantels auf junge Demokratien verstanden, die von Russland gegängelt oder bedroht werden. Ein Diplomat sieht es sogar noch pointierter: ,,Das Motto war doch: Was Russland ärgert, nützt der Nato."



In Westeuropa waren viele anderer Meinung. Gerade unter dem außenpolitischen Personal in Deutschland ist die Ansicht verbreitet, dass Länder wie die Ukraine und Georgien nur ganz langsam an die Nato herangeführt werden sollten, um nicht unnötig russische Einkreisungsängste zu wecken. Die Erweiterung sei auch eine Frage des richtigen Zeitpunktes, lautete eine Schlussfolgerung daraus.



Diese Gegensätze führten auf dem jüngsten Nato-Gipfel im April zu einem einmaligen Kompromiss in der Geschichte der Nato: Der Ukraine und Georgien wurde im Grundsatz die Aufnahme versprochen, ins Beitrittsvorbereitungsprogramm (Membership Action Plan, MAP) des Bündnisses wurden die beiden Länder aber noch nicht aufgenommen. Amerikaner und Osteuropäer sehen darin eine Zweideutigkeit, die schon vor dem Krieg einen Anreiz für Russland darstellte, gegen Georgien vorzugehen.



In der Nato ist aufgefallen, wie schnell die Russen nach dem georgischen Vormarsch ihre Truppen verlegten. Immerhin waren es etwa 10.000 Soldaten nach Abchasien und zwischen 10.000 und 20.000 Soldaten nach Südossetien. Das wirkte so, als habe Moskau nur auf eine Gelegenheit gewartet, um den Georgiern eine Lektion zu erteilen. Das Ergebnis war in jedem Fall gewaltig. Wichtige militärische Infrastruktur in Georgien ist zerstört, darunter auch eine Luftradareinrichtung, die eigentlich zum Datenaustausch mit der Nato genutzt werden sollte. Die vier Brigaden, mit denen Georgien nach Südossetien vorrückte, sind offenbar weitgehend zerschlagen und geflüchtet. Die Landesverteidigung besteht nur noch aus einer Brigade, die - mit amerikanischer Hilfe - aus dem Irak zurückgeholt wurde und nun Tiflis schützt.



Russland selbst will allerdings auch seine Beziehungen zur Nato überdenken. ,,Unser Verhältnis mit der Allianz kann sich nur ändern", sagte jetzt der russische Botschafter bei der Nato, Dimitrij Rogosin, einem Fernsehsender seines Landes. Er beschwerte sich darüber, dass Nato-Generalsekretär Jaap de Hoop Scheffer am Dienstag in einer offiziellen Stellungnahme kein Wort über die Opfer der georgischen Angriffe verloren habe. In der Nato hat das niemanden überrascht. Der Niederländer De Hoop Scheffer gilt als im Bündnis als Gewährsmann Washingtons.


Dispute in the NATO / policy of the empty chair

[by Nicolas Busse]

Faster than even the pessimists feared, the war in Georgia has led to an dispute in the NATO. Since the beginning of the weak several meetings in the Brussels headquarter took place, showing deep disagreements among the allies - about the treatment of Russia and about the question, if NATO should be on the side of Georgia.



In those meetings again the two camps from the Iraq crisis emerged: Americans with the Brits and the eastern Europeans on the one side, against western continental Europe under the leadership of Germany and France on the other side. 'This rift becomes deeper and deeper' says a diplomat.



Accute cause for the dispute are the meetings with Russia. On Tuesday the Americans contributed to prevent a meeting of the NATO-Russia-council, by refusing to join a preparation meeting. The Russians however didn't make it easier by demanding to hold the council meeting before the NATO ambassadors had a meeting with the Georgian ambassador, which was according to the most difficult to organise in time.




Some diplomats guessed already, that a 'policy of the empty chair' would be only a herald of a new tougher course of the US against Russia. Indeed Americans behaved 'very agressive' in the regular meeting of the NATO council and other subgroups, as some tell.




They demanded, that the Russian fregat(?) not takes part on an operation ,,Active Endeavour", an anti-terror operation in the Adria. The ship already is already at a Turkish port, its participation was already allowed. More over Americans want an extra session next Tuesday, blocking any attempt to have a NATO-Russia council meeting at the same time.





A regular council meeting planned for the defense secretary meeting in Budapest, Washington wants to abolish. Support the US gets from many eastern European states. They suggested e.g. to hold a meeting with the NATO-Ukraine-commision in Oktober in Budapest, despite such a meeting was planned anyhow some weeks later. This would be a subtle diplomatic pinprick against the disinvited Russians, because NATO has promised Ukraine together with Georgia, that the can join NATO one day.




More over many eastern Europeans demanded a robust answer to 8 point bid for help, which the Georgian ambassador on Tuesday gave the NATO council. They want, that NATO sends its fast intervention troop (NRF) to Georgia, Awacs, as well as a high delegation of its international headgroup.




Leader of the Eastern Europeans camp are currently the Tzechs, who act as 'special stirrers', as is told. In this group are the 3 baltic states, especially Latvia, and Poland. Hungary and Slowenia are more reluctant, they even spoke in the NATO council explicit of 'Georgian agression'.





Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey seem to see the war as a regional security issue, they talked mostly about a threat of the Black sea region.




Among the western allies UK and Canada are the most on the American line. In the western European camp under German-French leadership are seen Italia, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal and Norway. The Danes are more reluctant, but have spoken of 'Russian agression' and took the US phrase of 'unproportionate use of violence'.






The western Europeans, especially the Germans want 2 things. They [we, as this is a German newspaper and the translation is done by a German] don't want to cut the institutional frame of relationship with Russia for being able to continue a dialog with Russia and the NATO. And they think that the NATO can't do anything for the solution of the problem, because currently mostly the EU and the OSCE are active. Even the question is asked if NATO has to react at all on the Georgian bid, as the bid is a so called "non paper", no official request.




The US behaviour at least partially some explain by the anger, that the US was initially ignored in the conflict solution efforts, as the EU under French leadership negotiated a cease fire. Some assume state sec Rice as pushing force, because the WH originally hesitated to draw Georgia into NATO.





Experienced diplomat in Brussels opine that a fundamental conflict about the essence of NATO comes to light, present since a longer time. "If you ask a new member state, why they are in NATO, they say: cause article 5", says an expert. This article contains the assistance duty of the allies and is seen by many eastern Europeans as a survival guarantee against Russia. If one asks old allies in western Europe, then they talk about interventions in foreign countries and nation building. Article isn't mentioned.





The eastern Europeans are afraid, because NATO doesn't hold exercises at the top level for defending against a Russian attack. The Russia policy of NATO was in the recent years stronger formed by the Eastern European/US view than by the Western European view. The acceptance of new members of the post Soviet area was understood as increasing the protection sphere of the West to young democracies, annoyed or threatened by Russia. A diplomat even says: "The motto was: What annoys Russia is good for NATO."





In W Europe, many had different opinions. Especially among the foreign policy personal of Germany the view is common, that countries like Ukraine and Georgia only very slowly should be allowed to near NATO, for preventing unecessary Russian fear of being surrounded. The expansion would be as well a question of the right date, is one conclusion.





These antithesis led to a unique compromise at the most recent NATO meeting in April: Ukraine and Georgia was in principle promised membership, but they were not allowed for the membership preparation program. Americans and Eastern Europeans see this as a ambiguity, which was stimulation for Russia to agitate against Georgia even before the war.




NATO noticed how fast Russia was able to redeployed 10000 soldiers to Abkhazia and 10 - 20 000 into South Ossetia. That seems as if Russia was only waiting for an opportunity to lecture Georgia. The result was huge in any case. Important military infrastructure destroyed, among that a Radar station, which was foreseen for data exchange with NATO. The 4 brigades, with which Georgia went to South Ossetia, are mostly destroyed or on the flight. Georgia's defense is now only one brigade, which - with US support - brought back from Iraq is now protecticg Tblisi.







Russia OTOH wants to rethink its relationship with NATO. "Our relationship with the alliance can only change.", said a Russian ambassador at NATO, Dimitrij Rogosin, to a Russian TV station. He complained, that
Nato-Generalsekretär Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said no word about victims of the Georgian attacks in a statement on Tuesday. In NATO nobody was surprised. The Dutchman De Hoop Scheffer counts as warrantor of Wahington

Sorry for such a long article, but I wanted to prevent the accusation to suppress anti-Russian statements.And with the long translation I have now no energy left for highlighting.

As I see it, there is no such thing as a common Western position and Russia is not painted as simply evil.
About Putin there were press articles describing how he  gave flowers to Merkel and held breakfast with her, how he visited Dresden, the city where he lived some time, and so on. Sure, there are critical articles, but a demonisation - no.

Display:
Can somebody edit the title? I tried to remove the "Politik des leeren Stuhls", but it stays.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 04:17:38 PM EST
Done.

I think you're right, that opinions and analysis in European media are far from united in the Cold War rhetoric.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 04:30:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may need to edit the whole thing just because of copyright issues.  I don't know.

I can only speak for myself on the issue.  I mostly (unless someone prompts me to read a particular article in French or Russian or translates it here) only read/see/hear English language news outlets.  Personally, it is NPR on the radio, flip through the local news and the BBC on TV and everything I can get my hands on online.  I probably take in more news than the av. person, or maybe I actually listen/read critically instead of just absorbing it.  But I swear, regardless of my position on Russia, from Thursday on, there was a constant, I mean, unending barrage of fearmongering, one-sided (regardless who you blame for the conflict, you should at least be able to hear the position of both sides) news about Russia's invasion of Georgia.

This has begun to change in the past few days, as more actual information reaches more people, as people have calmed down a bit.  Immediately, most people here were getting their news from places like CNN, NPR, etc. which specializing in this "the second it happens" reporting.  It took a while for the voices in the wilderness to get some air time, for people to want to listen to academics and specialists and not the reporter in Gori talking about bombs.   Last night and today cooler heads seem to be prevailing.  

I am glad this was not the case where you live.  That was the case here.  Here it was for many days a fact that "the Western press would unanimously condemn Russia and generally ascribe Putin as 'evil' compared to the 'good' west."  I will call it the "English language press," though.  Because it was not just America.  The BBC was pretty shameless.  

I don't think anyone has ANYTHING to gain by inventing the issue of anti-Russia propaganda in the press.  Nor, of course, is every critical thing written "propaganda."  But it's there, and from my perspective, it was in force, more so than I can ever recall having seen before.  It was pretty ugly.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 04:40:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless:
 The BBC was pretty shameless.  

I have no illusions about BBC impartiality - the party line is reliably Atlanticist.

But even so - yes, shameless.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 05:21:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless: But I swear, regardless of my position on Russia, from Thursday on, there was a constant, I mean, unending barrage of fearmongering, one-sided (regardless who you blame for the conflict, you should at least be able to hear the position of both sides) news about Russia's invasion of Georgia.

that's what i hear as well.

nevertheless, as i am sure you have noted, Worldview is providing relatively nuanced and informative coverage.

i am not following NPR itself, but if in fact there coverage is also as one-sided as the mainstream media, that is really a tragedy, but i would not automatically pin that on an inherent bias or anti-Russian agenda, but more likely a lack of access to on the ground information and non-English media.  (am i being too charitable?  i really hope not.)

Cynicism is intellectual treason.

by marco on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 08:29:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
just saw you already posted that Worldview episode.

Cynicism is intellectual treason.
by marco on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 03:02:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worldview is great - but it is the exception to the rule.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 10:52:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was personally disturbed at the almost total lack of coverage on the role of Georgia in initiating this debacle.  I had not seen any myself and I had to go back and search inside individual newspapers to find such articles.  That was the reason for my posts in the Wed. Open Thread:

And the press goes jingo, jango jingo...
Critical background comes rather late:

Right at the point where the population of a democracy most needs solid information, the media falls into stunned silence.  When NATIONAL SECURITY is raised as an issue, apparently it it time for mass media self-lobotomy.  That now includes the national programs of NPR.  I was glad for the link to the Chicago PBS interview by poemless.  I expect that KCRW in Los Angeles as well as Pacifica radio outlets had better coverage.  Pacifica has no real budget, but at least has people who know how to search and dig.  Nor are they afraid to air critical views at times of danger.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 09:32:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree. It has been very clear from most news  sources I've seen and read that Georgia initiated the violence by invading Ossetia and brutally bombarding and levelling the capital city causing a large number of civilian casualties.  It is also true, from my perspective, that there was very limited coverage of the Georgian incursion and its immediate aftermath vs. the Russian counter invasion.  This could be (don't know for a fact) because the Georgian attack was a surprise to the press while the Russian action was not given the progression of events over time. The other aspect of this was that the Georgian perspective was loudly proclaimed  via interviews of Saakashvili and other Georgian Government officials by the Western press.  The Georgian Govt had a message to get out and the press was very accommodating.  However, I heard the Saakashvili interview and frankly thought he was lying rather unconvincingly.  For someone listening with interest, I doubt he did much for the Georgian side.  The sad fact, however, is that most American could care less about this whole affair.

On the other hand, the portrayal of Russia as expecting the Georgia attack and as having a long and well planned response I find credible and logical. The Russians are not guiltless in this whole thing, so it is entirely within reason that they also receive their lumps in the press.

The NATO split is understandable considering that Western Europe is almost entirely dependent upon Russia for energy needs - so it likely to prefer soft talking diplomacy and less aggressive action.  Eastern European countries have had decades of experience with Russian bullying so they are scared to death.  Mind you, I don't believe World War III is quite the right answer either.  I have always felt that isolating Russia outside of NATO and surrounding it with NATO allied countries is a lousy strategy bound to cause this kind of trouble eventually.

All in all I pretty much got what I expected from the press so it wasn't particularly egregious. Maybe I've just become jaded.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 10:38:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am concentrating on the US press coverage and portrayal of the conflict.  The LA Times, which I have read for 40 years and now follow on the web, had one article on Saturday, Aug 9, that first mentioned in the fourth paragraph that Georgia had invaded South Ossetia before Russia sent in the tanks.  I found an AP article on Aug 9 from the Houston Chronicle, which I sometimes monitor, that describes Georgia's role in "trying to seize" South Ossetia, and there is the article from the NYT I cited.  Nothing appeared in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

By Sunday and Monday, when the situation was starting to get serious, I don't recall any mention of the role of Georgia in starting the conflict. It is all Russian aggression against Georgia.  Not until mid-week did I see  critical coverage of the role that the Bush Administration and John McCain had played in encouraging Georgia.  And still the preponderance of the coverage seems to be on Russia's actions.  There is a lot more condemnation of Russia's "disporportionate" response than there is to that to which what they were responding.

First impressions can be lasting.  I suspect that not many US citizens became aware of the situation until Sunday or later.  By that time their first impressions  didn't likely include the fact that Georgia set off this round of trouble.

The neo-cons schemes blow up in their faces, they are shown by the facts to be incompetent and impotent and yet they are not called on it.  It seems to me that what coverage there was of Georgia's role was the minimum possible so that US news organizations could say: "well, we did cover it."  That is not good enough for me.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 11:23:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The NATO split is understandable considering that Western Europe is almost entirely dependent upon Russia for energy needs - so it likely to prefer soft talking diplomacy and less aggressive action.

This is a common misconception in the US.

Western Europe has been taking a soft approach towards Russia for decades, and you should read up about de Gaulle's France not systematically pointing its missiles at the USSR, or Willy Brandt's "Ostpolitik". That was in the 60s, for God's sake, way before Russia would sell us any energy.

It's just not written in stone that Russia should be fenced off, and we have learnt over centuries that playing the bully just does not pay in the long run - and this, the US public and politicians will eventually learn it as well.

It's just too bad they cause so much misery in the meantime.

by balbuz on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 01:37:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And of course, just to make sure, the US forces its missiles down our throat.

My personal view is that today's Russia would be a far more natural, reliable and peaceful partner than the US, which are just bad news, whatever they do and where ever they go on the world stage.

by balbuz on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 06:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Western Europe is almost entirely dependent upon Russia for energy needs

This is simply not true. Russia currently provides 25% of Europe's gas imports (which themselves represent about half its consumption)(note that the numbers can change significantly depending on whether you count Norway as in "Europe" or not, as it is not in the EU) and probably a smaller fraction of its oil.

The gas is a bilateral inter-dependency relationship, which had been stable for the past 40 years (until London started interfering).

Oil is a global market and Russia is only one potentially unfriendly supplier out of many.

Worries about energy dependency tend to look at future trends, whereby oil and especially gas demand goes up while domestic supply shrinks and Russian exports are expected to fill in the difference. So dependency might become an issue only if we continue our (insane) current policies.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 06:59:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you get Democracy Now on your local NPR or college radio station? It is an excellent alternative source of info, affiliated with Pacifica. We get it here in ultra-conservative Colorado Springs, so surely it's available where you are...

...After the Soviet Union dissolved, there remained areas in which, despite the fact that new states were created, there were tensions. One of those is the Ossetia or South Ossetia, which is where we've seen the fighting, and the other one, inside Georgia, is Abkhazia. There were agreements signed in the early 1990s that sort of solidified these as semi-independent territories. In one, there is a UN peacekeeping force, and then in South Ossetia, there is essentially independence, and, you know, they sort of ran their operations separate from the Georgian government.

And then, tensions began to increase over the past few months, because the president of Georgia has promised to retake--his words--retake the--particularly South Ossetia. That was a problem, because, by now, 90 percent of Ossetians there were holders of Russian passports. They had voted to become part of the Russian Federation. There was clear movement in the direction of this enclave, closer and closer ties with Russia...


http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/11/up_to_2_000_killed_as

In Chicago:

  • Chicago WRTE 90.5 FM Noon M-F
  • Chicago WZRD 88.3 FM 7am & 8am Tues-F
  • Chicago WLUW 88.7 FM at Loyola University 9am M-F
  • Chicago CAN TV, Ch. 19 7am M-F
by asdf on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 10:52:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We get it here in ultra-conservative Colorado Springs, so surely it's available where you are...

Thanks for the kind thought.  I live in Mountain Home, Ar.  I have no local NPR.  The closest is through Missouri State University's repeater in West Plains, Mo and it gets drowned out by Christian Radio half the time and is fading in and out the rest of the time.  My best receiver is in my Camry.  In the house I have to listen via the internet.  We are supposed to get a relay station when the switchover to digital is completed, but I doubt we will get Democracy Now, which I can listen to on KPFA or KPFK, via the web.  I probably should do pod casts.

But I don't worry so much about what I get.  I have pretty robust bullshit detectors and reality distortion deconvolvers.  The concerns I have been expressing go to what the US body politic has at their disposal for forming opinions and making decisions.  

My biggest concern has been that this "adventure" would be used to raise the profile of NATIONAL SECURITY in the elections, to Obama's disadvantage.  Surprisingly, it appears McCain could be vulnerable, if anyone drove home the reality of this fiasco.  It looks like Move-On or other 521s will have to do the heavy lifting for his campaign on this, if it gets done  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 11:38:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are an infinite number of good places for informed or alternative viewpoints out there.  That's not the issue.  The issue is those big-name, all-pervasive sources from which most people in the English speaking world get their news were neither informed or providing alternative viewpoints on this situation.  I mean, I can hang out at Russian Live Journal blogs all day, listen to Pacifica and Worldview, but that doesn't excuse the fact that scored of well-paid influential journalists were not doing their jobs.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 10:59:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may need to edit the whole thing just because of copyright issues.  I don't know.

I don't know neither, but only linking, as usual when using a full article won't work for the English part. Of course I could remove the German...

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 12:31:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with you. In France, for example, the printed press was much more balanced from day one. It seems to be the case in other countries, too.  

I think there is a bias due to the fact that, for evident reasons - this site in an English-speaking one, we tend to quote media that have an English-speaking website. This means we tend to quote mainly Anglo-Saxon media. Also it seems to me (I might be wrong) that media from other countries that have an English website are most of the time right-wing leaning ones.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 04:59:30 PM EST
... cutting point of this quote diary is that it is imprecise to say or convey the suggestion of "western press" when the worst examples are in the English language press.

But in the English-language media bubble, I would caution against taking the content of detailed coverage as representative of coverage in terms of framing public policy debate. The existence of reasonably careful, well-informed coverage is one thing ... the total audience receiving careful, well-informed coverage versus the total audience receiving the impression common to the DC Village and the Murdoch machine is also a matter to take into account.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 12:22:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that "Western" = "English speaking" anyway? France and Germany are not quite Western

(remember Thatcher: continental Europe is where all the problems of the 20th century have come from, and the Anglo-Saxon world where all the solutions have come)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 07:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never agreed to that ... that's another thing "agreed to" by the DC Village and the Murdoch Press Empire without my consent.
 

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 11:57:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't we agree that "Western" = "English speaking" anyway? France and Germany are not quite Western

I suppose there is "Western" as in the FT and then there is "Western" as when you stand at the Pointe du Raz, and the next land is America. Then France is Western Europe all right...

by balbuz on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 12:21:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This would be a very uncommon definition. And I agree with BruceMcF, that this definition would be kind of neocon success.
Your diary on dkos gives a completely wrong picture about the role of Europe, as many on dkos will believe, that you include Europe in the West, especially given your general dislike of Sarko, Berlusconi, etc.
If the article is correct, the EU and the OSCE had a positive moderating role in the conflict, and are accepted by Russia as sufficiently neutral to negotiate with. If the West is only UK and US (Eastern Europe for sure has less right to call themselves 'West' than Germany, Benelux and Italy) then, as many people think the West has won the cold war, you declare western continental Europe as irrelevant on the world stage, just in a moment, where it proves greater diplomatic skill than many others.


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 12:29:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are comments to articles in newspapers, where people say things like 'Putin for chancellor'. There are very critical voices of Russia, but I have the impression there is not a strict editorial line on this thing, e.g. on spiegel.
In general among young people the US under George Bush is much less popular than Russia, especially in east Germany, but as well in west Germany. Eastern Germany seems to be very different with respect to the common opinion about Russia, compared with e.g. Poland, the Balticum, Tzchech, Ukraine, ...
As Russia isn't a boogeyman here for much of the population, there is no benefit in riding it for the press.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 12:40:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was surprised by the hard anti-Russian line in Libération. The FT was a lot more balanced than Libé onthis crisis.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 07:01:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BHL is part owner of Libé...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Sep 2nd, 2008 at 09:04:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There has been a lot of neo-con evil empire guff in the US - with virtually no mention of the fact that Georgia initiated the conflict;.  This is hardly surprising as Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is a signed up member of the neo-con cabal.

See  "Putin's rules or ours", "Staring down the Russiand" "Dangerous Times In Georgia Demand Serious Leadership"
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/08/putins_rules_or_ours_1.html
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1832699,00.html
http://townhall.com/Columnists/FredThompson/2008/08/14/dangerous_times_in_georgia_demand_serious_lea dership

That "Old Europe" should take a different view is also hardly surprising.  Russia is an increasingly important trading partner and no one wants a return to Cold War politics.

This is about US domestic politics and giving McCain the edge on Obama.  The facts of what actually happened are almost irrelevant.

It's time I got out of this game....

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 06:14:43 PM EST
Frank Schnittger:
This is about US domestic politics and giving McCain the edge on Obama.

Everything the US does is about domestic politics. It's just that some of it happens abroad.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 07:50:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, was involved with The Project For The New American Century, one of whose projects was Iraq.  Until Feb. '08  he was a paid lobbyist for the Government of Georgia and had also worked for Romania and other former Soviet client states.

So far The New American Century has gotten off to a rocky start.  There is something these guys don't seem to understand about Realpolitik.  I think it has to do with the Real part.

In the October 14, 2004 NYT Magazine, Ron Suskind wrote of an encounter with an aide of GWB:

"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we called the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'  I noddwed and murmered something about Enlightenment principles and empiricism.  He cut me orr.  'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality.  And while you're studying that reality--judiciously as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.  We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do.'"
(Courtesy of George Lakoff's The Political Mind, p.40.)

For a long time they were right, despite the contemptuous arrogance the aide displayed.  From marketing and other consumers of brain science, they were able to run circles around their baffled opponents, i.e. us.  What they neglected to note or to remember is that their evil magic only works in the anglo world.  It is the most malignant metastasis of "The Anglo Disease."

The Russians could give a fuck about how well their little spells worked on the American and British public.  Didn't work on them.  The Bush Administration  apparently thought that their "new reality creation" techniques were so good that they didn't need to have any available force in order to engage in Realpolitik in Georgia.  Putin has shown that they were wrong.  We should be glad that so little damage has been done in the process of that revelation. This is not to minimize the suffering of the Georgians, but it could have been and may yet be worse.

The important think is that more people become aware of just what has happened.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 10:10:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The Bush Administration  apparently thought that their "new reality creation" techniques were so good that they didn't need to have any available force in order to engage in Realpolitik in Georgia."

Not only will the U.S. military establishment now re-reverse their thinking back to conventional wars (recently they have tried to move to a capability based on Iraq-style occupation forces), but the entire NATO project will have to be re-thought. For example, will the U.S. really start WW3 if Russia invades Estonia? I suspect not...

by asdf on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 10:59:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... NATO would be in the part where it spills over into Peninsular West Asia.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 11:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Horrors!  The return of "Finlandization."  Perhaps Sven can tell us how terribly that turned out.

That will apply to all who share borders with "The Evil Empire."  Neo-con withdrawal from their addiction to cheap posturing in East Europe will be excruciating to watch.  Let us pray that they have to go through most of it in exile from "the corridors of power."  Much safer that way.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 04:03:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See my LTE here

It's time I got out of this game....
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 05:13:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I continue to enjoy reading your EuroTrib contributions. I also enjoyed seeing the animation in your new sig line -- but only the first time, not the second. Please consider reserving it for use in diaries.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 04:01:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep - I got fed up of it pretty quickly my self!  Put it down to having a bad day!

It's time I got out of this game....
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 at 08:31:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you mean:  

Contradicting bashing by "West"  

Else bashing OF "West" is obvious possible reading.  

Good find.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 05:10:50 AM EST
No, I mean, that here on ET the Western press was bashed unreasonable hard. However, as Jerome has defined Germany and France not to be part of the West, this diary would be obsolete, but my understanding is very different on this. In the article the 'Iraq divide' is mentioned, although this is not really accurate, if Spain and Italy are on the same side as France and Germany. In my, and I think the opinion of many, the 'Iraq divide' was quite a split in the West.
George Bush senior offered Kohl to be the prime partner in Europe, very much to the annoyment of UK. Germany was the prime front line in the cold war. Brussels is the HQ of NATO. The general secretary of NATO is a Dutch, his precessor was a Spaniard. France may have a special status, as it was quite some time not a full member of NATO, but not to count Western Europe as West is really uncommon.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 12:18:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is not really my definition, but one that seems to be prevalent, or at least implicit, in the Anglo Saxon pundit circles (the "Washington Villagers" and their London cousins). But using it this way helps make sense out of a hell of lot of assertions on the public stage.

It's like the definition of "growth" - when you realize that it onle refers to the top 1% of incomes, you suddenly understand current economic "wisdom" a lot better.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2008 at 05:50:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same thing in the French press, from right

Il ne suffit pas d'être à tu et à toi avec Poutine pour s'en faire un partenaire, un interlocuteur fiable. Mais traiter la Russie avec l'esprit qui a prévalu pendant la guerre froide serait de toute manière partir perdant.

Similar in L'Huma, from a different perspective of course (not available on web in y'day's edition)

     

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 11:02:14 AM EST
Even the kids on Daily Kos have begun referring to CNN as "GNN" the "Georgian News Network."

What about GNN? (6+ / 0-)

The Georgian News Network.  Shakashvilli's been on so often spewing propaganda that I think he's going to replace Anderson Cooper.

Shill, Shill, Shill.

by Paleo on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:40:39 AM CDT

[ Reply to This | Recommend ]

 * [new] Well... (1+ / 0-)

I definitely see a job opening for Mikheil here after his stint as President of Georgia is over.

by kalmoth on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:09:11 AM CDT

[ Parent | Reply to This | Recommend ]


 

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 12:24:44 PM EST
Former Russian-dominated states in Europe seem to imagine that its security is grows bigger as Russia is weaker. Ultimately, this means denying Russia the right to exist.

NATO is clearly a tool to press the russians. What do you  when you are pressed against a wall. do you get more quiet? I certainly do, while I choose where to hit forcefully.

Since security needs of all countries involved are real, an alternative to NATO must appear. I can see only reason for hope: as the american economy brcomes weaker, their military strenght must be reduced. (I dont see political leadership in our continent, so changes must originate from elsewhere.)

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 11:08:01 PM EST
Excellent comment, which goes at the heart of the issue. It's time Russia's neighbors understood that keeping Russia down is just as dangerous as letting it unchecked.

Balance is what we need, but we seem to have polities in various places that doesn't do balance. "Old Europe" does do balance a bit more - and gets called wimpy for its pains.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 17th, 2008 at 05:52:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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