War

The war in Georgia is expanding, but it’s hard to get clear accounts of what is going on. The Russians have bombed the Georgian town of Gori, which is near, but outside of, the disputed province of South Ossetia. Spiegel has photographs from the scene, including this one of a woman injured in the Russian bombing:

These Russian guns are firing at a Georgian position:

Georgia claims to have shot down a number of Russian airplanes, and apparently has captured at least one Russian pilot. There are unconfirmed reports of Russian ships steaming toward the coast of Georgia.

What is most striking about the crisis is how strongly it recalls the bad old days of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin has cast aside any pretense of having given up the reins of power, and is directing the Russian Army. Here is how Pravda is covering the conflict:

War between Russia and Georgia orchestrated from USA:

Russian officials believe that it was the USA that orchestrated the current conflict. The chairman of the State Duma Committee for Security, Vladimir Vasilyev, believes that the current conflict is South Ossetia is very reminiscent to the wars in Iraq and Kosovo.

Russia: Again Savior of Peace and Life:

The international community collectively held their breath waiting for the reaction of Russia after the savage, brutal, criminal attack by Georgia on South Ossetia. After having offered a cease fire in hostilities, the back stabbing Georgians immediately violated the cease fire, invading South Ossetia and causing massive destruction and death among innocent civilians, among peacekeepers and also destroying a hospital. …

Georgian troops attempted to storm the city [Tskhinval] much as Hitler‘s Panzer divisions blazed through Europe. Also noteworthy is the fact that Georgian tanks and infantry were being aided by Israeli advisors, a true indicator that this conflict was instigated by outside forces. …

Relating what has become common practice among war criminals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reported: “A Russian humanitarian convoy has come under fire. Panic is growing among the local population, and the number of refugees is increasing. There are reports of ethnic cleansing in some villages… The situation is ripe for a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The two-faced, underhanded foreign policy of Georgia:

Ask anyone in the Caucasus region, and they will tell you never to trust a Georgian because they would shake your hand with a smile and then stab you in the back. On Friday morning, we saw a perfect example of this treachery, when hours after declaring a ceasefire, Georgian military units launched a savage attack on the civilians of South Ossetia.

Hours after Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili, the pro-western Washington-backed anti-democratic stooge (attacks on opposition policians in Georgia are rife) declared a unilateral ceasefire, the Georgian army lanched a savage attack on the capital of the province of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, with tanks and infantry, while the air force bombed a village and strafed a Russian humanitarian aid convoy.

We appear to be witnessing the resurrection of the Brezhnev era. If so, the news is ominous indeed, for if Vladimir Putin looks like the second coming of Leonid Brezhnev, Barack Obama looks equally like the second coming of Jimmy Carter, whom Brezhnev treated as a lackey. Today the Obama and McCain campaigns both put out statements on the Russian invasion. Politico’s Ben Smith contrasts them:

While Obama offered a response largely in line with statements issued by democratically elected world leaders, including President Bush, first calling on both sides to negotiate, John McCain took a remarkably — and uniquely — more aggressive stance, siding clearly with Georgia’s pro-Western leaders and placing the blame for the conflict entirely on Russia.

In case that wasn’t clear, he adds: “McCain’s initial statement…put him more closely in line with the moral clarity and American exceptionalism projected by President Bush’s first term.”

In another weird echo of the Brezhnev years, Obama adviser Mark Brzezinski– Zbigniew’s son–said, “It’s both sides’ fault — both have been somewhat provocative with each other.” Sure. Just like the Czechs provoked the Germans in 1938.

The Russians, needless to say, are not neutral as between McCain and Obama. Ben Smith recounts that Russia’s Washington public relations firm contacted reporters to remind them that McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann has lobbied for Georgia. Unbelievably, the Obama campaign aligned itself squarely with Vladimir Putin, putting out a statement that echoed the Russian PR firm’s:

“John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser lobbied for, and has a vested interest in, the Republic of Georgia and McCain has mirrored the position advocated by the government,’ said Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan.

In the common sense-free world of Barack Obama, advocating for a fledgling democracy that is trying to align itself with the West and is threatened by the imperial aspirations of Russia constitutes a “conflict of interest.”

The McCain camp responded with this statement:

The Obama campaign’s attacks on Randy Scheunemann are disgraceful. Mr. Scheunemann proudly represented a small democracy that is one of our closest allies in a very dangerous region. Today, many are dead and Georgia is in crisis, yet the Obama campaign has offered nothing more than cheap and petty political attacks that are echoed only by the Kremlin. The reaction of the Obama campaign to this crisis, so at odds with our democratic allies and yet so bizarrely in sync with Moscow, doesn’t merely raise questions about Senator Obama’s judgment–it answers them.

The American people once elected Jimmy Carter to defend their interests against Leonid Brezhnev and the Russian Empire. It will be interesting to see whether they are willing to do it again.

UPDATE: More here.

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