O-No! weighs in on Russia

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I appreciate the N&O's effort to "try" to take a stand on US's role in the Russian-Georgian conflict, but I'm afraid it falls far short of the mark. For example, the subhead on today's lead editorial belies the reality of America's rapidly diminishing stature in the world.

Short of war, America should try to ensure that Georgia's clash with Russia ends with Georgia's independence intact

Try? As our old friend Yoda says, "Do, or do not. There is no try." And in the case of US influence on Russia, there is clearly "do not." Putin could care less about what George W. Bush says or wants.

The editorial continues:

A clear U.S. response, coordinated with allies, is fully merited. Washington should work for a quick withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia proper, which deserves to remain an independent nation. Effective peacekeeping in the separatist Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will have to be instituted.

If some of the steps Bush has taken seem minor or mostly symbolic -- cancelling a planned military exercise with Russia, for example -- they don't preclude sterner measures later on. Such steps could include barring Russia from the leading group of industrial nations and boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics (to be held at the Russian city of Sochi on the Black Sea, near Georgia). Bush was wise to hold those measures in reserve, as an arsenal and an incentive.

That said, his administration has mismanaged the Georgian situation so far.

Ya think?

Using "Bush" and "wise" in the same sentence is an oxymoron of the highest order. But more to the point, there is nothing the current administration could possibly do to "work for a quick withdrawal." The US is teetering on the verge of total irrelevance in a world that is discovering it can manage itself just fine without us. And no amount of blustering, pleading, coaxing and cajoling from the inept Bush administration will change that one bit.

Like Bush himself, the editorial writers at O-No! are trapped in a nostalgic delusion of the past. They think the United States of America has significant clout. We do not. Our nation has become both financially and morally bankrupt in the blink of George Bush's eye. And despite our obscene spending on military might, we simply cannot exert our will on the world anymore. Iraq and Afghanistan have proven that our armed forces are not a bottomless reserve. Our political "leadership" has proven it lacks the conviction to end our dependence of imported fossil fuels. We are a paper tiger, pure and simple, quite nearly friendless, except among those few nations we can still afford to buy.


Updated with correct Yoda quote from a friendly reader:

I didn't want to diminish the quality of the conversation going on on your post by pointing out that your Yoda quote is incorrect. The correct quote is "Do, or do not. There is no try." I don't want to be the nerd police, but I also don't want any right-wing nutbag to come on here and argue that the site lacks credibility because someone quoted Yoda wrong (yeah, weak example, but I've seen conversations degrade on other political blogs to that level).

I love our readers!

Comments

Overstated.

I wouldn't despair of American influence just yet.

It's clear that the Bush mismanagement of our policy and resources has diminished our standing and influence on current problems. Yet, that potential influence remains real and substantial.

A competent president with the decent judgment not to lock our military into an endless no-win conflict, or to bluster impotently when he's holding an empty hand, will make a good start.

That only describes one of the two major party nominees, of course.

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

I think not

The beginning of the end of the American empire is not solely a function of the current administration's incompetence. The meteoric rise of China, India, and Brazil, for example, has fundamentally shifted the global balance of power.

The confluence of these two phenomena (Bush incompetence + economic globalization) has created a perfect storm that has undermined US influence irreversibly, in my opinion. Yes, a new, sane president and an engaged administration may restore moral leadership, but too many nations are already turning their attention to the east. Exponential growth in Asian markets is sucking up ever-increasing amounts of both human and financial capital.

Poor countries in need of our hand-outs will continue to operate under our sphere of influence. The others? Not so much.

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The NC Family Policy Council doesn't speak for my family

Matter of degree.

Overstated doesn't mean entirely without a solid point. I take issue with the characterization of "paper tiger", not with the conclusion of diminished relative influence. There's a more accurate middle-ground description between irrelevance and "world's only superpower".

Economically, we're badly hurt by the drunken-sailor borrow-and-spend pattern of the last eight years, but we're still one of the world's most significant markets and economic powers. Compared to the rising Asian population super-centers, our market size looks smaller, but not insignificant.

My point is that we can become anything from a post-Soviet Russia to a European Union, in terms of economic importance, depending on how well we manage and employ our still enormous human and other resources.

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

I agree our consumer power

may be one of the few bargaining chips we have still.

Interesting comment by the guest on C-Span this morning; essentially he said that Russia would be hurt by their manipulation of their exports of oil and natural gas to Europe as a way to "leave them in the dark and cold". Since the pipelines and supply structure is all flowing to Europe, Russia would be cutting off its nose to spite its face.

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina

One of two things is inevitable.

War with the Russians, or the return of the Russian Empire.

Unfortunately, we do not have the military option available, short of nuclear strikes or the draft. But, if you read through enough history you will see that some nation always takes advantage of another nation's weakness due to war. It always happens. It is happening now. Did we really believe we had reached some state of enlightenment where some ruler would not extend his reach because it isn't nice?

The Russian Bear is lead by a KGB killer, we are lead by a drunken frat boy. In the end, Bush will back down because he is afraid, and Putin will take back many, MANY of the former Soviet satellites. Either in name or in deed, they will be under the thumb of the Russians.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I am sad to have to agree with you, Robert.

No matter what GWB thought he saw when he looked into Putin's eyes, there as always been an agenda to take back the small republics. I fear Georgia is just the first, and while we might have the will to stand in their way, we do not have the might, as we are tied up in a fiasco in Iraq.

Even without Iraq

we'd have no say in the matter. Russia could give a shit what the US thinks - just look at their actions.

And by invading Iraq, we've set ample precedent for any nation that wants to invade others under the banner of protecting their own national interests. The US is entirely irrelevant in this issue. And our deal with Poland to position missiles around Russia serves only to heighten tensions, while producing no strategic value of any kind. A war with Russia would mean a war with China would mean a nuclear conflict with no winners. Not even W is that stupid.

On second thought ...
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The NC Family Policy Council doesn't speak for my family

How many?

OK tough guy, how many American lives would you sacrifice for Georgia?

BTW, if you want to know what a real war for oil looks like, Putin just showed you one.

F*&k off.

"tough guy" my ass.

Putin showed what a war for oil looks like? Right, forgot, Iraq is about capturing Osama bin Laden. Or, is it WMDs? Or, is it the Global War on Extreme Muslim Extremists?

I don't know how many lives I would sacrifice for Georgia, how many did we sacrifice in Korea, Vietnam, Congo, etc?

I didn't invade Georgia, I didn't sit by while Russia became more and more arrogant and aggressive. Russia invaded a former Soviet territory/satellite/whatever. Now, it's saying that "Poland was making itself a target by agreeing to host the anti-missile system. Such an action 'cannot go unpunished,'"

The Soviet Union is all but back, courtesy of the Republican foreign policy.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

word

- - - - -
McCain - The Third Bush Term

Predictable

Just the kind of reasoned and intelligent discourse I've come to expect.

"Bush will back down because he is afraid"

Yeah the guy who organized the invasion and overthrow of two despotic regimes is a 'fraidy cat. The comedy around here never ceases.

We sacrificed plenty in Korea. South Korea is now a reasonable example of a functioning democracy. To get that way, it took about 50 years of successively less repressive regimes. Today South Korea is a peaceful nation and are no military threat to anyone. The Korea vets I know are proud of that. But I guess you put that down as an American foreign policy failure. But then you'll have to explain the difference between South Korea and the insane leadership to the North who got let off the hook. Or are you in favor of a government induced famine of biblical proportions while spending all the money on nuclear weapons?

We sacrificed plenty in Vietnam but failed to finish the job. South Vietnam finally fell only after the pusillanimous Democrats in Congress cut them off entirely in 1975. Understand that by 1975 there was no longer any significant U.S. troop presence in Vietnam. All they wanted from us were bullets so they could defend themselves. (I became eligible for the draft in 1975 and for some reason was paying really close attention to events.) To borrow a phrase, "What were they supposed to fight with, spitballs?" The North continued to be supported by the U.S.S.R. and China and when they took over the South the resulting wave of horror was unimaginable. Never mind the support they gave to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Pathet Lao in Laos who were doing the same thing.

Today, Ho and his murderous buddies are dead both literally and philosophically, and the Vietnamese look over at South Korea and and America and are turning capitalist as fast as they can. They are no longer invading neighboring countries. They are too busy trying to make money. So, in the end, even thought we lost, we won.

We've sacrificed plenty in Iraq, but far less than either of the other two. The Democrats have cheered every setback while wringing their hands and whining that we're doomed to failure. After all the backbiting it looks as if success is possible. It'll take 50 years but I hope Iraq can end up looking like Turkey - a functioning pluralistic democracy with Islam as the primary religion but various ethnic minorities safe and successful. Unless the Democrats throw it all away. Again. For partisan political reasons.

C'mon, tough guy, you're the President for the last 8 years. What's your plan for Georgia?

I agree with you, actually. Putin is Putin and he was going to do what he wanted to do regardless of anyone else. (I remember remarking fifteen years ago that Russia was just in its Weimar Republic phase.) Short of all out war, there's not much we can do. But we do have highly trained battle hardened military forces stationed near enough that we could if we had to. I'll wait a minute while you get out your map and figure out where they are.

Obama's solution (before backpedaling) -> take it to the U.N.

How'd that work out with Saddam?

Looks like the "3 am phone call" ad was spot on.

You may have missed it but Iraq now has a significant financial surplus because of all the oil we "stole" from them. Now that the Russians have control of the oil pipeline through Georgia I'm sooo sure they'll be turning the revenue over to the Georgians.

Not paying attention to the facts.

Friend, if you were sweating the draft in 1975, you weren't paying close attention to the facts at that time. I'm a product of that era myself, so I distinctly recall registering for the draft when I turned 18 in December 1972. The draft was indefinitely suspended by President Nixon less than two months later. By 1975, with American withdrawal (under the second successive Republican president) from Vietnam essentially complete, it was well clear that the draft was not going to be reactivated.

Your final question demonstrates that you're not tracking the facts very clearly today, either.

How did "taking it to the U.N." work out with Saddam? Pretty well for our interests, actually. Iraq was contained at affordable cost and no ongoing U.S. or international lives being lost. He had no WMDs. Al-Queda in Iraq didn't exist. Iran was not in a position to concentrate on expanding its regional influence. And the U.S. didn't have the vast majority of our available military personnel and resources tied down in a no-win, open-ended occupation.

By the way, out of curiosity, from where do you get the handle "Locomotive Breath" anyway?

Dan Besse

Dan Besse

"In the shuffling madness,

of the locomotive breath; runs the all-time loser, headlong to his death..."

It's possible LB considers himself an unstoppable force chasing down liberal losers and grinding them under his train wheels.

Or he's just a Jethro Tull fan, which is cool. I saw them in concert back in the Seventies, and they totally rocked.

Me too!

And they did.

Saw them in the 70's, I mean.

I was unclear.

Thank you for replying without the apparently obligatory profanity and abuse.

I was unclear. I should have said "would have been eligible". I am well aware of the dates when the draft ended. The draft caused me to begin paying close attention to a situation that as a teenager I might not have. Especially since my brother is two years older than I and since I grew up in the Navy town of Norfolk, Va which was a very busy place just about that time. Just because the draft stopped a couple of years before I would have been eligible doesn't mean I stopped paying attention. Nor does it mean those my age were not worried that the draft would make a comeback at some point in the future. 'Cause it's not only 18 year olds that get drafted. So, yeah, we were all still sweating the draft in 1975. As I'm sure you know, draft registration did make a comeback. By that time I was just a little too old to have to register.

Which returns me to the point of my post which is absolutely correct and which you ignored by quibbling over trivia. I remember when the Democrats in Congress abandoned our ally and left them to their fate. (Dare I say it's seared into my memory?) Would South Vietnam have survived if we had continued funding them? Who knows? But by cutting them off we absolutely guaranteed the tsunami of bloodletting that followed. I knew a few Vietnamese who managed to escape (lost track of them now). If you haven't, find a few and talk to them to understand the consequences of our perfidy.

I remember service people in Norfolk being extremely pissed that for want of a relatively small amount of additional money their efforts were being so conspicuously wasted. That and being spit on and called babykillers. Thanks John Kerry. Young men who had been drafted and did their duty and hadn't run off to Canada. I remember first hand it was Navy policy for sailors to not go into town in uniform.
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I don't in any way share your POV that the U.N. was a success in Iraq. To the point, Obama apparently forgot that Russia and China have a veto in the U.N. Security Council which guarantees U.N. inaction and ineffectiveness with respect to Georgia. And anywhere else.

The U.S. and the Brits (not the U.N.) spent more than a decade enforcing a U.N. mandated "No Fly Zone" over Iraq. Part of the reason was to prevent Saddam from using his remaining air power to slaughter civilians who happened to be members of the "wrong" groups. Prior to 2003, carrier battle groups were already continually deployed and engaged in low-grade warfare against Saddam. You say "no ongoing U.S. or international lives being lost." Well given the level of gunfire that was being exchanged it was only a matter of time.

I'm wondering if you include in the international lives "not lost" the Iraqis being murdered by Saddam. I can't find the link now, but at one point prior to 2003 Amnesty International was estimating 5,000 a MONTH.

With the acquiescence (some would say connivance) of the Clinton administration U.N. weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq so we had no on-the-ground intelligence about what Saddam was up to. Not that he was actually cooperating with the inspectors. So the U.N. inspections regime was a failure.

BTW, what was Saddam saving this for? Saddam had everything he needed to get started again just as soon as we took our eyes off him. In fact, of the long list of reasons for invading Iraq (go look up the Congressional resolution) the only thing that we didn't find were actual completed WMDs. We did find long range missiles that he was not supposed to have that we didn't know he had. Missiles with the range to hit Israel. Maybe not good enough for you, but good enough for me given that every other reason for invading Iraq was spot on.

We gave Saddam 6 months to cover up. If something was there it's not surprising it was no longer there when we got there. You did read the recent news of Israel bombing Syria. Wonder what they were after? Barely a peep of complaint about it though. Could it be Israel didn't bomb a hospital?

Then there was the completely corrupt U.N. "Oil for Fraud" deal Saddam had going and was using for anything BUT feeding Iraqis. Mostly to bribe U.N. officials and buy whatever weapons he could get his hands on. Not much of a U.N. success there.

Saddam was pretty young. Upon his death, his two evil spawn were ready to take over and carry on. How long would you have been willing to continue military operations in the Gulf to contain a country with demonstrated aggressive intent? Maybe for, oh pick a number, 100 years? The U.N. mandates were on the verge of breaking down anyway. Go Google how many people were calling for the removal of non-military sanctions on "humanitarian grounds".

We don't really know what was going on in Iraq prior to 2003. Even if Saddam had no direct involvement in 911, it's undeniable that he was doing nothing to impede whatever terrorists might want to operate in Iraq. Islamic terrorism is a whole lot more complicated than Al-Queda and OBL. You maybe heard of Hezbollah?

"Locomotive Breath" comes from several origins not relevant to this particular thread and I won't go even more OT. But I did like Jethro Tull back in the day which is part of it.

Drivel and half-truth

Just a few things. Who is doing the drilling and oil production in iraq? Yes, american oil companies.

You forget yourself when you challenge me on education, you are the party that wants to teach creationism in science class.

Also, how ridiculous to say we have troops ready to attack russia. Do you imagine this will be the first gulf war? We cannot keep our current forces in iraq and afghanistan, but you imagine we will have enough to fight russia?

Finally, Bush is a bully, he attacked third-world countries with no military. He'll quail before Russia after trying to talk tough.

My greatest fear is that Georgia is to Russia as Poland was to Germany. But once again no one can or will stand up to them.
----insert witty remark here----coming soon----

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Is this all a big prank between W and Pootie?

I'm wondering if they cooked up the whole "war" thing with everybody in on the deal. Condi gets to stomp her feet and the Russians pretends like they're listening to the US. Meanwhile defense contractors are seeing dollar signs with ten zeroes, just itchin' and hopin' that we can have just enough hostility to keep the cash flowing, but not enough to kill too many customers. Georgia's a pawn in Bush's campaign to get McClain elected. Wag the freakin' dog.

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The NC Family Policy Council doesn't speak for my family

The amusement continues

Just a few things. Who is doing the drilling and oil production in iraq? Yes, american oil companies.

And the profits from the sale of the oil is going to Iraq. Are you saying that Iraq should not develop their own oil resources? Are you saying the oil companies should work for free? Maybe you think the Iraqis should contract with the Russians? Aside from your hatred for oil in general, the problem is what exactly?

You forget yourself when you challenge me on education, you are the party that wants to teach creationism in science class.

Totally irrelevant. Entertaining, but irrelevant. As I say, the comedy never ceases.

Also, how ridiculous to say we have troops ready to attack russia. Do you imagine this will be the first gulf war? We cannot keep our current forces in iraq and afghanistan, but you imagine we will have enough to fight russia?

If we have to. The tanks of the 1st Armored Division are of limited use against an insurgency type conflict but would be just the thing in a conventional battle against the Russians. If it's going to be Cold War II, we may be forced to return our military to the size it was prior to 1990. I'm willing to fund it. Are you? If/when we do, we have a tremendous number of highly experienced service people already in uniform.

In the First Gulf War, Saddam's army was the best proxy army that the Soviets could build. If you want I'll Google up all the predictions of failure (made by people on our side). Didn't turn out that way did it? The Soviets looked at our success and knew they didn't have a chance in a conventional battle. Do you think the Russian army is better today?

Do you feel like you're supporting the troops when you devalue their accomplishments?

Finally, Bush is a bully, he attacked third-world countries with no military. He'll quail before Russia after trying to talk tough.

If you want I'll (again) Google up the predictions (made by people on our side) that our military didn't have a chance in Iraq or Afghanistan. Interesting how people who have done everything they could to undermine the President now complain that he doesn't have the backing to meet a new threat.

Do you feel like you're supporting the troops when you devalue their accomplishments?

Speaking of attacking third-world countries without a military, shall we talk about Serbia now?

My greatest fear is that Georgia is to Russia as Poland was to Germany. But once again no one can or will stand up to them.

I agree. But we can stand up to them now if we have the nerve. Interestingly you criticize the President for standing up to minorish tyrants and do everything you can to devalue that accomplishment yet complain that he won't stand up to a bigger tyrant. But who do you think will do a better job at Cold War II: McCain or Obama?

Go read the news. Our stature in the world is so diminished that all the former Soviet vassal states are flocking to our side. Poland and the Baltic states have been invaded by Russia far more times than Germany. Maybe this time we can recognize the threat and stand by them early on. As the man says "you can pay me now or you can pay me later".

But given your past behavior, Putin is counting on your efforts to get the U.S. to back down from an aggressor. See how that works?

I apologize...

to the entire BlueNC family for having responded to this troll in the first place.

It's like trying to convince a Yankees fan that the Red Sox are the better team, or vice-versa. It's not about facts, it's about feelings.

From here on out, I don't see his comments or respond, let him go play in the right-wing sandbox.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Lesson learned

It's why I rarely visit the Puppetshow anymore. When one's approach to everything starts for a certainty that one's sown mind is the arbiter of reality, there's no point engaging. Some people accuse me of that, of course, but they are full of shit. I've flip-flopped on more issues than John McCain (which is a lot). In my case it's because I'm open to new ideas. In his case, it's just pandering for votes.

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The NC Family Policy Council doesn't speak for my family

I started out my political life....

as a pro-death penalty, gun-totin', anti-tax moderate. Only because Reagan ruined the economy in Central PA for 30 years did my family and many around me turn against Republicans. A conservative, southern Democratic Mom also probably played a role in my eventual turn-around. But, mostly, it was getting out and exploring the world, learning, experiencing.

Living and playing with inner city kids, working summers in college hauling steel and doing crap jobs at an equipment repair company, surviving by myself without health insurance on $10K a year and working late-shift jobs to pay the bills in grad school, traveling to visit my wife in the Peace Corps in Morocco, teaching at a small college that served rural and urban students who had been horribly unprepared by our school systems.

They can call it flip-flopping, I call it learning.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Yep

So much for any substantive discussion. I apologize for bringing to your attention a point of view that differs from your own. Apparently being "progressive" also means being close minded.

Throwing this all on Putin's shoulders

is overlooking some crucial details.

Don't get me wrong: I've been (and will continue to be) critical of Putin and the changes that are taking place in Russia.

But the Bush administration has been extremely aggressive in its efforts to gain influence in the former Soviet satellites and republics, and this represents a huge economic and strategic threat to the Russian Federation. Not an imaginary threat, a very real one, and one that has (already) had some very negative effects on Russia's economy and trading network.

NATO's not in Bulgaria and Romania and whole string of other countries to protect them from Soviet-style aggression, they're there so they can exploit trade opportunities and apply pressure to Russia at the same time. We wouldn't stand for that kind of behavior, and they won't either.

I think that a good part of this has to do with the "training"

and psychologocal makeup of the folks running this country. They were all brought up, trained and educated during the Cold War. USSR/Russia makes no difference. A big bad bogeyman must exist, must be our raison d'etre that creates and informs our national policies both foriegn and domestic. Condi, Cheney, the whole DOD, et al cut their teeth in the 70' & 80's. They took out Saddam, the immediate post-Cold War big baddie, yet the "War on Terror" just isn't the same as squaring off against Russia/USSR.

Annexing or occupying South Ossetia also puts Putin's thumb on a 1,000,000 barrel/day oil pipeline. That thought plus Iran's position reletive to the Straits of Hormuz must really pucker some butts in the White House. 'Cuz OIL is Da BOMB, don't cha know?

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Excellent point.

Let's just hope that OIL isn't really DA BOMB.

It's the traditional

Kabuki dance that politicians do.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run