Trade War over Georgia? Not the point.

31790159_6bb1fc120b Several commenters have written to discuss my rhetorical question as to whether or not Russia and the US will push their renewed rivalry to the point of war. Some have dismissed the possibility of the kind of wars that they have seen in the last decades.  They have dismissed the chance of such wars between the two powers on the basis of the full commitment of US ground forces elsewhere.  Others have taken up the possibility of a trade war.  Only "Curious" addressed my principal concern.   Nuclear war.

There will be many who will say that the time has passed when we needed to fear such a thing.  The argument will be made that the powers are at last firmly lodged in the character of "rational actors."  Are they correct in assuming this state of affairs?  I think not.  Humans remain a species as much dominated by emotion and the herd instinct as the cool intellect envisioned by "modern" theorists.  Group identity in the form of nationalism and other forms of tribal identity are still powerful and likely to remain so.

You think not?  Consider this.  What was there of really rational calculation in Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?  The Russian leaders have every reason to think that Bush, Cheney and the neocons are capable of ideologically driven decisions that are devoid of rational action.  The Iraq adventure speaks for itself of an example of that.  The near disaster in Iraq has probably been averted through the ability of the US armed forces to learn from their experience there, but the Bush Administration and the neocons dragged their feet and did little to help the armed forces retrieve the situation.  McCain can "rattle on" but everyone who really studies the situation in Iraq knows that the solutions reached were complex and only partly the result of the increase in combat units labeled "the surge."  The Russians should also consider the bellicose comments of both candidates for the presidency of the United States concerning Georgia and the foolishness of the idea of sending US fleet units into the Black Sea where the potential for a confrontation with the Russian Navy would be high.  Such a confrontation, fed by mass emotion expressed by modern media could easily escalate in an an uncontrollable process.

Khrushchev badly misjudged the possibilities for the USSR when he met with Kennedy in 1961.   As Kennedy said on a later occasion "the Soviets have made the mistake that many others have.  They have thought us weak, soft, and self absorbed."

Russia and the United States still possess the power of Armageddon.  They must be more careful in dealing with each other.  pl

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64 Responses to Trade War over Georgia? Not the point.

  1. lina says:

    Have not the policies of VP Cheney, and the poor execution of those policies, made the U.S. appear “weak, soft and self-absorped?” Not to mention deranged.
    But I hear ya, Col, about Armageddon. I was on the tube in London about 10 days ago and saw the screaming headline in one of the tabloids “We’ll Nuke Poland.” This was in response to the missile defense shield deal.
    They didn’t exactly say that, but here’s what the BBC reported:
    “A foreign ministry statement said that Moscow ‘will be forced to react, and not only through diplomatic demarches.’ It did not elaborate.”
    Then just last night, we get Joe Biden dropping a little bellicose statement into his acceptance speech about Georgia. Is that supposed to help them get elected?
    I also heard young people in the U.K. referring to America as “yesterday’s country.”
    Good luck Barack. You’re going to need it. You’re going to need the full weight and power of your much derided celebrity to dig us out of the hole we’re in.

  2. VietnamVet says:

    Well said.
    It is very curious that corporate media and the neo-con war mongers totally ignore Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). It is just as much in play now as 30 years ago. More and more, the only reason to wave the red flag in Georgia has to be to elect John McCain. Staying out of jail is strong incentive to try any political ploy including risking nuclear war
    The break up of Europe into ethnic states within the framework of the European Union is one outcome of MAD. Rolling tanks across a border horrible increases tensions and can easily escalate to nuclear war especially when both sides are nuclear powers. Sensible people recognize the risk. Blustering over Georgia is solid indication of American weakness and delusional thinking of the current Bush/McCain White House.

  3. Bill W, NH, USA says:

    What I don’t understand is why the Presidential candidates don’t take the high road on Georgia. Biden could have said, “just another blunder in a long line of blunders by the Bush team (regime)”. They act as if we don’t know who did the initial slaughtering of innocents.

  4. Dave of Maryland says:

    Dear Colonel,
    If you believe that nuclear war is a possibility because of the current Georgian flare-up (and, frankly, I agree with you), then it is the responsibility of all responsible people, everywhere in the world, to remove the war making powers from the parties that currently hold them.
    I am open to suggestions as to how this can be done in an expeditious fashion, vis-a-vis Washington. I did not respond earlier because I did not think anyone wanted to act.

  5. Curious says:

    After all the sabre rattling, bluffing, shouting and yelling.
    The war machine depends on the economy. And there is a giant problem with the economy.
    The russians are going to call that one out. No amount of military action can fix this issue. Because the insane military expenditure is not sustainable.
    As the recent financial crisis has clearly demonstrated, when monumental loans are in default, only massive bailouts by central banks can prevent the total collapse of the banking system. Bailouts are the inevitable offsprings of money creation out of thin air intended to provide liquidity to banks. While for central banks bailouts are costless, for the economy they are extremely costly and have delayed disruptive effects. Massive liquidity injection, since August 2007, and the bail out of banks has, in turn, increased money supply at faster rate and contributed to sharp exchange rate instability and acceleration of energy and food price inflation. It has also stalled economic growth.
    Bailouts mean that the central bank validates uncontrolled and disorderly money and credit creation by banks. In view of their high inflation and income (and wealth) redistributive effects, bailouts impose a huge outright tax burden on fixed income and working classes. Massive bailouts socialize financial losses and protect private gains from speculation. They, therefore, lead to considerable social injustice.

  6. robt willmann says:

    The edginess and foolishly dangerous nature of nuclear weapons “policy” in the Bush jr. administration is noted in the following articles.
    Paul Craig Roberts was a Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, was an associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and has been at Georgetown University and the Hoover Institution at Stanford. He speaks to the nuclear matter here–
    I have not had time to trace through the changes in U.S. nuclear policy, especially since 2001, but some work has been done by Jorge Hirsch, PhD, who is a physics professor at the University of California at San Diego. A couple of writings are
    Professor Hirsch’s Internet homepage is here–

  7. isl says:

    Vietnam Vet: Actually MAD is more in play. The reduced capability of the Russian army means nuclear deterrence takes a greater importance, and of course, this administration refuses to state that it would not use a preventive nuclear first strike to prevent nuclear war.

  8. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    <"a confrontation, fed by mass emotion expressed by modern media could easily escalate in an an uncontrollable process.">
    Certainly, didn’t we experience this in the run up to the “irrational” Bush Iraq War. Have Americans learned any “lessons”? Do Americans “learn” or is this too rational a process for the masses within our (present) borders. Certainly seems too “rational” for the delusional foreign policy elite deeply wallowing in phantasmagoria.
    On can argue the White House and Congress are not operating as “rational actors” being deluded by geopolitical fantasies masquerading as national strategy. The mass media easily generates the level of mass hysteria needed to justify US wars such as the “irrational” Bush Iraq War. A few calls from the White House, some buzz in the elites, and voila, instant yellow journalism/jingoism and etc.
    All manner of “scenarios” are “possible”: general nuclear war at the intercontinental level or “limited” nuclear war at the “tactical battlefield” level or…pick another one.
    Here anent the latest Topol ICBM
    Does the recent testing indicate narrowing CEP’s and thus have implications for blast overpressures and “hardened” US targets?
    Given recent tensions, Russian planners may develop some nostalgia for MIRV’d systems like the good old SS-19s of days of yore with their “hard target kill capability.”:
    Given globalized financial markets a good play today seems to be investment in US-Russian-Chinese military complexes. Russian market looks attractive this week with some good buys out there…

  9. DTR says:

    Final Song of Dr. Strangelove:
    We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when,
    But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.
    Keep smiling through, just like you always do,
    ‘Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.

  10. Got A Watch says:

    The grand incompetence of US/UK policy towards Russia since 1989 has played out to a non-optimal outcome. Inflamed by 21st century neo-con thinking to ‘The Brink’ we are building to now.
    Have the neo-cons have made the same grand strategic mistake as Hitler and Napoleon did? If your oft-stated “goal” is to “destroy Muslim terrorism”, exactly what “goal” is served by opening up a second Russian front now? Anyone?
    By continually pushing Russia in so many ways in pursuit of their “encirclement” strategy, the neo-cons, provoked an inevitable backlash from the Bear. A product of flawed logic and faulty old style Cold War assumptions.
    Interventionista policies like the “color revolutions” usually fail in the long run, as history shows. I am all for democracy, but I would like to see the citizens of each “post-Soviet” “republic” (or whatever you want to call these areas) work it out on their own. Their history suggests it won’t be easy or pretty, with or without outside interference.
    The Russians want to control the areas that used to the “Soviet Union”…and the oil/gas there…they always have, and probably always will. This is a surprising strategic concept to whom?
    Being half-Polish, I am no lover of Russia, but I do respect them. From the Polish point of view now, or so I hear, they are happy to sign the ABM deal. Apparently the US is going to re-equip the Polish Army, they are very happy about that, and hosting as many NATO bases as may be desired. From the informal relative grape vine. I am not sure about American taxpayer reaction.

  11. b says:

    @VV – Yes, some folks in the U.S. seem to have forgotten MAD. The Russian federation just sent a reminder.
    Reports: Russia test-fires long-range ballistic missile

    MOSCOW, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) — Moscow test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia on Thursday, news agencies reported.
    The Topol RS-12M ballistic missile, designed to defeat anti-ballistic missile systems, has hit a designated target at a testing range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, said Alexander Vovk, head of the Russian Strategic Missile Troops press service.

    Now why did the RF president decreed the independence of those areas.
    Two reasons I can think of:
    a. internal political pressure
    b. to put them in a legal state that makes western intervention less justifiable/likely.
    a. seems unlikely. The latest Russian polls are 75+% pro Medvedev’s action
    b. would be reasonable if the Russians really feared some military actions to get back those areas back.
    I call b.
    It is NOT that the RF fears the U.S. is weak, it fears that the U.S. is strong.
    The U.S. has daily sent some 30-40 tons of equipment by plane to Georgia for some 14 days now. It additionally unloaded 100+ tons from ships. It has some 50 Tomahawks and some 50 Harpoons on ships in the Black Sea. Those could certainly sink the Russian Black Sea fleet and disable the RF airbases in the area.
    There are strategic non-nuke U.S. air assets to consider(B2).
    The Georgian army, with U.S. and Israeli trainers, is still 27,000 men strong. The RF has 10,000 men in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If those hundreds of tons the U.S. unloaded over the last 14 days were Javelines, Stingers, etc how well could those troops fight?
    The Russians really, really fear U.S. troops at their boarder. Never forget, they lost 20 million people in the last big fight.
    If the Russian Federation would look weak now, the nuts in the U.S. might feel free to use the capacity build up to retake the areas and, after that, have a direct presence in the Caucasus.
    The strategy to avoid that is to look strong and decisive. Make sure that the U.S. understands that this will escalate.
    Therefore, the RF acknowledged the independence of those areas and made sure that the world knows the cost of interfering there is not simply a local issue.

  12. Got A Watch says:

    Things are heating up. Note the longer SwissInfo version of this Reuters story:
    Reuters headline: “Putin says suspects U.S. provoked Georgia crisis”
    SwissInfo headline, a more reserved: “Russia faces diplomatic isolation on Georgia”
    “Russia’s powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in a CNN interview he suspected someone in the United States provoked the Georgia conflict to make the situation more tense and create “a competitive advantage for one of the candidates fighting for the post of U.S. president.” He did not elaborate.
    The United States and Europe have demanded Russia respect a French-brokered ceasefire and withdraw all its troops from Georgia, including a disputed buffer zone imposed by Moscow.
    France, the current EU president, has called a meeting of EU leaders on Monday to discuss the Georgian crisis, and its Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters that “sanctions are being considered and many other means as well.”
    The United States, Georgia’s closest Western ally, said it was premature to say whether it would consider sanctions against Russia, White House spokesman Dana Perino told reporters.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Kouchner had already suggested Russia might attack Moldova, Ukraine and the Crimea, and added: “That is a sick imagination, and probably that applies to sanctions as well. I think it is a demonstration of complete confusion.”
    Moscow expressed alarm at a naval build-up in the Black Sea, an area normally dominated by its southern fleet.
    Two U.S. warships are already off the coast of Georgia to show support for their ally and Washington has ordered the flagship of its Sixth Fleet, the sophisticated joint command ship Mount Whitney, to the area, saying it will deliver humanitarian supplies.
    A NATO official denied there was any build-up linked to the Georgia crisis, saying an alliance group of four warships were on a long-planned routine exercise.
    Russia’s military has spoken of up to 18 NATO vessels being in, or expected to be in, the Black Sea. It has responded by sending the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, to the Abkhaz port of Sukhumi, less than 200 km (120 miles) to the north of where the two U.S. warships are sailing.”
    My comment: The French sound bellicose, as do US/UK. The rest of Europe +, looking at Gazprom’s hand on the valve, is reacting how? Is NATO united on this? The SCO seems to have wisely stepped aside on this one.
    Desperate to save face, will they give Russia a strong ‘tut-tutting’ followed by a stern ‘finger-wagging’ (as I am hoping) or stumble down slippery slopes?

  13. TomB says:

    Col. Lang wrote:
    “There will be many who will say that the time has passed when we needed to fear such a thing. The argument will be made that the powers are at last firmly lodged in the character of “rational actors.” Are they correct in assuming this state of affairs? I think not. Humans remain a species as much dominated by emotion and the herd instinct….”
    Isn’t there some tension between this view and a fundamentally non-interventionist international stance however? E.g., if indeed the human factor involved with nukes makes their “mere” possession so dangerous and the situation so fragile, then what’s wrong with Bush’s policy on Iran saying that no, their mere possession of same cannot be allowed and indeed must be guaranteed against?
    (Even if under the present circumstances they would pose no direct threat to the U.S. since, after all, times change, and since they may be anyway used in such a manner that *indirectly* draws the U.S. into a nuke confrontation.)
    Same with our invasion of Iraq. Obviously even Saddam admitted he was trying to let everyone believe he was working on getting nukes, so therefore while we were mistaken in going in, were we still justified in doing so?
    FWIW I tend to think not. Indeed, as terrible and paradoxical as it may be, isn’t there some substantial evidence that in fact nukes do lead to more rational actors? At the end of WWII we had just emerged from maybe the bloodiest half-century ever, and yet with half of mankind still at daggers drawn with the other half. So what prevented what can seem like the natural normal continuation of the previous half-century of blood-letting other *than* the invention of nukes?

  14. John Howley says:

    I agree that the moves and counter-moves seem not to be rational and escalation is always a threat.
    Unfortunately, rational actors can also pretend to be crazy for intimidation purposes so it can be hard to tell.
    Of course Russia is focused on the Kosovo precedent.
    Serbia has submitted a resolution requesting an advisory opinion from the Intl Court of Justice on Kosovo. This requires a vote from the UN General Assembly to go forward. Vote likely September.
    US/EU will round up votes against it. Many countries with their own separatist troubles would like to see it go forward.
    Where does recognition of Abkhazia and Ossetia leave Russia vis a vis supporting Serbia’s resolution?
    Serbia World Court move on Kosovo seen buying time

  15. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Thank you for expanding the theme.
    Given where we are today, I cannot read the Melian Dialogue as anything other than a metaphor for the importance of MAD.
    Like the absolute deference of a primitive people to an all powerful god, the threat of mutual nuclear destruction created a ‘force majeure’ to which all nations had to defer. Some even called it a “Pax Americana.”
    Twenty years ago we thought that political imperative went away with the dissolution of the USSR, but we, in our mantle as winners chose to ignore the reality of the nuclear threat that was and is still there.
    As a result, we are once more stuck with the wide range of imperfect human cognitive processes that are all too easily swayed and disinhibited by irrational emotions, fed and driven by the unresolved conflicts that are produced by arbitrary and unrealistic expectations: a recipe that can quickly lead to world ending disaster.
    The Melians had no ‘force majeure’ by which they could defend themselves. Unfortunately, as you remind us, the United States, the Russians, and up to seven other countries do.
    Given our present administration, it is all too easy to imagine what the consequences would be if an Ambassador of the United States were to be assassinated while on a mission of peace to the Republic of Georgia.

  16. meletius says:

    And our Russia “expert” Sec of State can’t even meet with our “partner”, apparently. Maybe she’s sent an email. Quite a situation.
    This timing of this crisis is very suspicious, and the GOP seems to be thinking that McCain benefits from it. Putin reads the papers, at least.
    The elites of fading empires, having wrecked their military and economic power, desperately thrash about seeking to maintain their geopolitical “reach” and “stretch”. These are the final stages of imperial overstretch and it’s comforting to see that the old rules apply again and again.
    Not too comforting for one’s physical life, but that’s not the concern of our hardened-concrete bunker elites, is it?

  17. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    So what are the perceptions of the Russian leadership regarding the Georgian crisis?
    Their Prime Minister just said:
    1. “We have serious reasons to believe that American citizens were right at the heart of the military action. This would have implications for American domestic policy. If this is confirmed, we will have grounds to suspect that somebody in the U.S. has created this conflict to aggravate the situation and create a competitive advantage for one of the presidential candidates”.
    “As far as the perception of these events by the general public goes, it depends not only on politicians, but also on how artful they are in controlling the mass media. And our American colleagues do this much better than we do and there’s a lot we can learn from them”.
    The beer baroness in Georgia? What does this signal to the Russian leadership? And Biden’s visit and statements?
    2. The Prime Minister also said:
    “On 7 August, at 14:42, the Georgian peacekeepers left the headquarters of the peacekeeping forces under the pretext that they’d received orders from their commanders to leave their posts, and they never returned.
    One hour later, heavy artillery shelling began.
    At 22:35 a massive bombardment of Tsklhinval started. At 22:50 the transfer of Georgian ground troops started to the combat area. At the same time Georgian field hospitals were set up.
    And at 23:30 the Brigadeer General commanding the Georgian peacekeeping forces announced that Georgia has declared a war against South Ossetia. They announced this publicly, looking straight into the TV cameras.
    At that point we tried to contact the Georgian leadership, but everyone refused to talk to us.
    At 12:45 AM on the 8th of August the Georgian commander repeated his statement. So who attacked whom?”
    3. “For eight years while I was President I often heard one and the same question – what place does Russia think it should occupy in the world? We are a peace-loving state and want to co-operate with all our neighbours and other states. But if someone thinks they can just come in and kill us, and that our place is in the cemetery, these people should think of the consequences of such policies”.
    4. Shaul Mofaz and Barak were in the White House on August 1. Was this when the green light was given for the Georgian attack?

  18. Walrus says:

    The comments by “b” underscore the narcissistic, militaristic, jingoism that is common in America today, and that ultimately is going to lead to your doom, unless it is immediately stopped. If you want an example of what this looks like in full flight, visit the right wing hate site
    It has been clear since 1992 when the first drafts of what became “The project For A New American Century” surfaced that there was no way that the military industrial complex was going to allow a “peace dividend” to be extracted from the American Defence Budget, and their efforts to prevent such action have flowered into rampant Islamophobia, the Iraq war, and now probably this engineered confrontation with Russia over Georgia, Poland, and probably by next week the Ukraine.
    The trouble with the Neocons strategy is that it is based on rational calculation, but people are not rational and miscalculations can, and will continue, to be made, especially by the idiot in the Whitehouse.
    As for American “strength”, I think this is narcissistic BS, and I will refrain from making the obvious unkind comment comparing our adversaries in Iraq to the Russians, and anyone who thinks they are a pushover is a fool. As for NATO warships in the Black Sea, not one of them would make it out alive if the Russians decided to take them on.
    In my opinion, Poland, Georgia, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania should be regarded as buffer states, and treated accordingly, not “Bastions of freedom and democracy”.
    To put it another way, don’t provoke the Bear.

  19. Keith says:

    Latetly, the similarities to Austria-Hungary ‘liberating and defending’ Bosnia from the Turks as part of the Treaty of Berlin, and annexing it to the needs of Empire 30 years later seem evident.
    Does anybody know how to say ‘The Black Hand’ in Georgian?

  20. Cieran says:

    Colonel Lang:
    Thanks for making your concerns explicit. We seem to suffer from some collective mass delusion that the end of the cold war somehow defused all those thousands of nuclear weapons built by the US and by the USSR, and yet it obviously didn’t.
    So one comment and a question:
    First, there is an excellent book-length treatment of this nuclear war problem courtesy of Jonathan Schell’s recent “The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger”. Schell has been documenting the insanity of the nuclear arms race for as long as anyone, and his most recent book includes some good discussion of what he has called the “invisibility” of US and Russian arsenals.
    Schell distinguishes between dangers due to proliferation (i.e., countries like Iran that don’t yet have such WMD know-how) and dangers due to existing arsenals (i.e., the US and Russia doing lots of saber-rattling). Why we seem so obsessed with the former while completely ignoring the latter is probably one of the great mysteries of our time, but it’s pretty obvious that a country that has thousands of thermonuclear weapons is an infinitely greater threat than one trying to build its first HEU-assembly atomic weapon.
    Second, a question about the seriousness of the nuclear option. Neither the US nor Russia has tested a full nuclear weapon in the better part of two decades (we’ve done subcritical tests under the aegis of validating equation-of-state laws for special nuclear materials, but these don’t reach critical mass, much less design yields for real weapons). Real nuclear weapons systems are fairly simple in theory, but incredibly complicated in actual practice.
    So I find myself wondering if any truly credible threat of nuclear activity wouldn’t have to be preceded by some underground testing, e.g., opening up the NTS and shaking some tall buildings in Las Vegas. I know that the tri-lab managers periodically testify to Congress that the arsenal is in working order based on computer simulations performed within the ASC program at the three weapons labs, but I gotta wonder if Congressional testimony and gazillions of lines of C++ running on NNSA supercomputers are sufficient to know that our weapons work as advertised under realistic conditions.
    And physical testing like we did pre-1992 seems like the only way to be sure (and it’s not like we have a shortage of weapons to test).
    Any thoughts on whether our leaders appreciate that they might want to check out the workings of their guns and ammo before they start taking aim and pulling the trigger?

  21. Grumpy says:

    As we look at the Georgia – Russia Conflict, there are many things to consider. As the Col. Lang talked about the very real possibility of NUCLEAR WAR, I personally believe he is right. But there are some nagging questions that annoy me. Very few things happen in a vacuum. Did you ever notice, there is a precise begin date for the Russian behavior, which is the focal point for everyone. I would rather back off and look at all of the regional players and all players in this situation. Were their actions aggravating or mitigating? I personally believe there is plenty of blame to go around. We should be look at the time before the Russian moves, this will help us to put everything into a historical context.

  22. Fred says:

    Curious, those are great points and should give everyone pause for thought.
    MAD? All the more reason the neocons want a missle shield; just think what the next neocon led pre-emptive war will look like. It should be called a ‘first strike’ shield.

  23. jonst says:

    I simply took it, and take it, as a given there is an all too real possibility of miscalculation here, by buffoons, and by even a few, relatively speaking, wise men. And so of course nuclear war is a possibility. To think otherwise is to think….well, is akin to thinking that American troops would be welcomed in Iraq. With chocolates.

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    There may be young people whose experience of war is Iraq or Afghanistan who are hypnotised by neoconism into thinking that a national policy of military aggression is a good idea but you will find few of the old breed who are like that.
    A reasoned attitude of caution and proportionality in strategic matters is not to be confused with a personal commitment to pacifism. Old soldiers are willing to fight but not eager to commit the country to war. pl

  25. David W. says:

    According to the Zionists, MAD is inoperable against an irrational, zealous foe. Perhaps they are spreading this meme while they ‘do business’ in Georgia.
    Not incidentally, I believe that nukes crossed the rubicon long ago from ‘threat to human civilization’ to ‘lucrative business opportunity.’

  26. Curious says:

    Here we go, the trade war is rolling…
    Russia doesn’t even have to do anything beyond “spreading rumor”. Speculators take care of the rest.
    Reports have begun to circulate in Moscow that Russian oil companies are under orders from the Kremlin to prepare for a supply cut to Germany and Poland through the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline. It is believed that executives from lead-producer LUKoil have been put on weekend alert.
    Sector Snap: Meat makers continue slide on Russia
    Shares of the nation’s top meat producers continued to fall Thursday on worries of potential cuts by Russia to chicken and pork import quotas.
    Shares of Smithfield Foods Inc. (nyse: SFD – news – people ), the nation’s largest hog producer and pork processor, fell 48 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $21.08 in morning trading Thursday, while chicken producer Sanderson Farms Inc. (nasdaq: SAFM – news – people )’s shares fell $1.24, or 3.5 percent, to $34.
    This is not a real trade war yet. Sooner or later Russia will start hitting things that count. Titanium supply, steel price war, Uranium, wheat, soy …
    (That boeing much delayed 787 depends on Russian Titanium supply. If russia decides to make 787 late for a year. Boeing will be in a lot of pain. But Russia needs the tech transfer, I doubt they are into screwing Boeing.)
    at least they tone down the nuke shouting match now.

  27. Curious says:

    What I don’t understand is why the Presidential candidates don’t take the high road on Georgia. Biden could have said, “just another blunder in a long line of blunders by the Bush team (regime)”. They act as if we don’t know who did the initial slaughtering of innocents.
    Posted by: Bill W, NH, USA | 28 August 2008 at 12:28 PM

    It’s a neocon project. Can’t dis the aipac gang, they own DC politicians.
    Sensibly speaking, georgia issue should be resolved a week ago.
    talk with Russia, make agreement (basically, they keep the break away, but make it look Georgia is still united.
    remove shakasvilli, we stay out of Georgia except economic matter, Russia settle the whole thing quickly.
    New Regime in Georgia come in, clean up the rest.
    Everybody happy. Everybody saves face (except shakasvilli and neocon gang). Nobody gets killed, everybody gets to keep their investment and oil supply.)
    But now the whole thing has escalated to full blow trade war. Europe will fall into recession.
    Next G8 meeting where Bush supposedly beg G8 to prop dollar won’t happen as a result. (Nobody has money)… and Russia will make sure the prop won’t happen.
    Russia can announce short targeting (they can make tons of money doing this too) London stock market is ripe for a short attack.
    They can also bring down GSE by dumping US bonds. This alone will cost US budget $20-30B. Which btw, japanese private holders are already dumping for fear this exact scenario.
    If Russia being very nasty, next step they can start an oil war. (combined with Chavez, Iran and Iraq, they will control 20-30% of global daily oil supply … Even the Saudi won’t be able to cover the deficit …)
    Next of course… start supplying weapons to everybody… even more lucrative scenario.

  28. b says:

    walrus said:
    “The comments by “b” underscore the narcissistic, militaristic, jingoism that is common in America today, and that ultimately is going to lead to your doom, unless it is immediately stopped.”
    b is a German and about as pacifist as they come.
    I tried to look at the issue with the eyes of a mildly paranoid Russian.
    Russians indeed fear NATO and the U.S. and that may well be the reason why they now act the way they do.
    The Colonel thinks the Russians act this way because they feel strong.
    I believe the Russians act this way because they feel weak.
    One must consider both when trying to decipher their messages.

  29. David Habakkuk says:

    I suspect you are absolutely right on the reasons for the Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia — that they fear a renewed attempt by Georgia, backed by the U.S., to reconquer these areas, that their calculations are based upon fear of U.S. military strength far more than confidence in their own, but that the conclusion they draw is that they cannot afford to look weak.
    In his defence of the recognition decision, Medvedev claimed that it derived directly from the fact that statements by Georgia and its allies gave them reason to believe that a fresh attempt would be made to subjugate the areas by force:
    ‘We restored peace, but we could not extinguish fears and hopes of the peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a situation when Saakashvili continued (with participation of and encouraged by the US and a number of other NATO members) to speak of re-arming his military and re-establishing control over ‘the Georgian territory.’ The presidents of the two republics applied to Russia, asking to recognize their sovereignty.”’
    Contrary to what is often asserted, Russia did not set a ‘trap’ for Georgia. As Anatol Lieven noted recently in the Times, Moscow had made it ‘absolutely, publicly and repeatedly clear that if Georgia attacked South Ossetia, Russia would fight.’
    As people took no notice then, and seem disinclined to back off now, the Russians are attempting to make it absolutely plain that a fresh attempt by Georgia forcibly incorporate South Ossetia and Abkhazia means a serious war — and that the time when they will take encroachments on their interests lying down is over.
    And indeed, there are signs that in some quarters the message is getting through.
    So for example the Daily Telegraph’s Con Coughlin — a leading British neocon, and a key figure in British and U.S. disinformation networks — is getting decidedly leery about indications that Yushchenko may imitate the recklessness of Saakashvili:
    ‘Not content with tearing up the lease agreement on Sevastopol, Mr Yushchenko is seeking to place restrictions on the movements of Russian naval ships.
    ‘In its current belligerent mood, the Kremlin is not going to take such provocation lying down, and Russian soldiers have already been busy handing out passports to Crimeans to bolster the numbers of Russian “citizens” who might conveniently require Moscow’s protection should Russia genuinely fear for the future of its Sevastopol base.
    ‘The Ukrainian government’s action is foolhardy, to say the least. And before Mr Yushchenko provokes Moscow any further, he would do well to remember that the last thing the West needs right now is a new Crimean war.’

  30. David Habakkuk says:

    ‘The reduced capability of the Russian army means nuclear deterrence takes a greater importance, and of course, this administration refuses to state that it would not use a preventive nuclear first strike to prevent nuclear war.’
    Deterrence theory, as we are familiar with it, is a Western academic construct. Much of it is simply another perverse manifestation of an exaggerated faith in the utility of axiomatic reasoning in political analysis which corrupts a good deal of ‘political science’. Among many other difficulties, much of it makes sense if and only if one thinks that the likely cause of a possible war is a conviction on the part of an adversary that the potential gains from territorial expansion outweigh likely costs and risks.
    From the late Fifties on, the primary Soviet concern was not deliberate Western aggression, but a chain of events becoming uncontrollable, Sarajevo-style. Such a conception does not lend itself to a belief in the virtues of ‘deterrence’.
    (On the evolution of Soviet thinking see Michael MccGwire’s 1987 Brookings Institution study ‘Military Objective in Soviet Foreign Policy’ — in particular the references in the index to ‘Sarajevo factor’.)
    As I noted on an earlier thread, when the Yeltsin Administration abandoned the Soviet-era commitment to no-first-use, it did so against the better judgement of one of the leading Russian military intellectuals, General Mahmut Akhmetovich Gareev.
    I discussed the background to Gareev’s reluctant acceptance that Russia would have to rely upon nuclear threats in the first of this series of threads on Georgia.
    Here, I will simply repeat the apocalyptic vision he presented to the Russian Academy of Military Sciences, of which he is president, in in January last year.
    ‘The keynote speaker, General (ret.) Mahmoud Gareev, offered a somewhat different perspective on future threats. He predicted that “in the next 10-15 years, ecological and the energy factors will become the main cause of political and military conflicts.” Apparently referring to the U.S. presence in Iraq, he stated that some states will seek to control energy resources, while others will have little choice except to perish or resist. In Gareev’s assessment, competition for energy sources will pit Russia first and foremost against the United States and other developed countries, but will also spur nuclear proliferation, as other energy-rich countries seek nuclear weapons to defend their resources from the United States. This could lead to a “war of everyone against everyone.”
    ‘Given these conditions, Gareev asserted that nuclear weapons will remain the “central, most reliable means for the strategic deterrence of external aggression.” He predicted that although future wars will primarily be conventional, the threat of nuclear use will always be present. Thus, Russia needs to rely on its nuclear arsenal given the unfavorable balance of conventional forces in all theaters. The role of nuclear weapons will be all the more important, Gareev asserted, because the nuclear armaments of almost all other nuclear weapons states are aimed at Russia; therefore, he concluded, Russia must maintain a credible and robust strategic nuclear deterrent. He noted, however, that due to the deterioration of Russia’s space-based observation capabilities, ground-based early warning systems, and offensive weapons, Russia’s “ability to launch a strike on warning, much less a second strike is becoming problematic.”
    Obviously, what assumptions are being made by the political leadership is a separate question. But as anyone who bothered to look could find out, these were the kind of assumptions on which leading Russian military thinkers have been basing their calculations for some time.
    Are these calculations paranoid? I would like to think so, but am getting less and less sure.

  31. Nancy K says:

    Hopefully the next administration will not confuse diplomacy with a pissing contest. However if that administration is headed by bomb bomb bomb Iran Mcain I think we might be in trouble.

  32. Syndroma says:

    Not even a trade war, just the war of words.
    UN Security Council. Russia Vs. Georgia, Round 6: FIGHT!

    Churkin: “If here in our chamber today for the first time we had had aliens from outer space [emphasis mine: ALIENS FROM OUTER SPACE?!], I’m sure that having listened to our discussion he would have been filled with pride for the member of the Security Council, how consistently they champion the principles of international law. I must say I in particular liked the statement of the permanent representative of the United States, reminding the members of the Security Council that states in their activity must refrain from the use or the threat of the use of force. And I would like to ask the distinguished rep of the United States, weapons of mass destruction, have you found them yet in Iraq? [emphasis mine: pause given so all the journalists in the house can yell “OOOH DAMN!” at the same time] I would like to ask the distinguished rep of the US as to whether there are threats coming out of Washington against another member of the UN to use force against that other member and even wipe it off the face of the earth. Now, several other members of the Council have referred to the importance of complying with resolutions of the Security Council, complying with the principle of territorial integrity. And where, dear colleagues, were you when we were discussing Kosovo?”

  33. TomB says:

    b wrote:
    “b is a German and about as pacifist as they come…. One must consider both when trying to decipher their messages.”
    Good for you, b. Not only has the ratio of the polemical to the analytical seemingly gotten kinda stifling in the comment section here, but combined with the tone and tenor of the former one suspects that those who might want to make an analytical statement or even one simply disagreeing with the zeitgeist here are being dissuaded from doing so for fear of being misconstrued, attacked or etc.
    One can get polemical ranting anywhere. For those with some intellectual modesty interested in finding somewhere to talk and “decipher” out complex things as you put it is a harder proposition. Glad you tried here with your provocative suggestion.

  34. Curious says:

    There goes the cheap russian uranium…
    (I guess Russia start dumping all lousy contract they have signed in the past. )
    Next up, cooper, nickle.
    (They can also win price war in steel, aluminum)
    Once they control Congo and south africa, they will have global output of rare metal for electronic processes. Both will be more than happy buying Russian military gears after being bad US relationship.
    Basically, Condi and crew eff up yet again. Mouth goes first before looking at the map.
    The imminent collapse of the nuclear deal, once a top Bush priority, represents the most tangible casualty so far of the deteriorating relations with Russia following its brief war with neighboring Georgia. With Vice President Dick Cheney heading to Georgia next week, Mr. Bush is also poised to announce about $1 billion in economic aid to the country, the officials said.

  35. fnord says:

    One of the fascinating aspects of this conflict is that its propably the first time that the neocon spinsters have recieved opposition both on the net and in Media. Also, its the first conflict that has employed the internet as a battlefield, both with propaganda and actual cyberwar.
    The Georgians are currently trying to spin a story that it was the Russians that attacked S. Ossetia first, and that the Georgians were merely reacting. For the newest historical revision, see

  36. Walrus says:

    My schadenfreud will only be complete when I hear Putin make a speech on the deck of the Moskva, docked in a Georgian Port, saying “You are either with us or against us” and peppered with other Bushovik one liners with a banner backdrop saying “Mission Accomplished” in Cyrillic.
    Ever since the beginning of the Bush Presidency, I had the conviction that the wild words of Bush, Cheney, Bolton and the other acolytes would come back to haunt all of us.
    b, my concerns about relative strength and weakness centre on the assumption, implicit in the thinking of almost all so called military strategists (and I don’t claim to be one) that the United States can militarily defeat anyone on the planet any time it likes.
    I don’t buy it. I accept Col. Langs argument that in times of trouble Americans are not shallow, weak, self absorbed, but I remind you of Kissingers dictum “America has no friends, only interests”.
    Bush, McCain and Putin are deeply flawed weak men. I am not sure America is prepared to trade the destruction of American cities for Kiev.
    To put it another way, I don’t think NATO is much of an insurance policy these days. America is “emmerde” in Iraq and Afghanistan and heading towards an election. I am concerned that Putin might calculate that the Ukrainians can be brought to heel without an over committed America making any effective military response. I am also concerned that there are those in Washington who believe their interests may be well served if Putin were to try.

  37. Marcello says:

    “There are strategic non-nuke U.S. air assets to consider(B2).
    The Georgian army, with U.S. and Israeli trainers, is still 27,000 men strong. The RF has 10,000 men in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If those hundreds of tons the U.S. unloaded over the last 14 days were Javelines, Stingers, etc how well could those troops fight?”
    Well, ATGMs and MANPADS are good if you are defending. But if you are attacking you need armor and artillery more than anything else. And I doubt that twenty planes based half of the world away can deliver an effective CAS round the clock. And for the georgian army, well they did not even try to disable their vehicles as they abandoned them, with the result that many of them are now fully functional in russian hands. That is not the sort of army I would use to dislodge 10000 entrenched russians.
    No doubt the usual foam at the mouth jingos are salivating about using the georgian “tough warriors” to crush the russians but that is just mental masturbation, not a practical course of action.

  38. Cieran says:

    One can get polemical ranting anywhere.
    True, but only here at SST can one gain the pleasant surprise of a courteous-yet-firm “behave or else!” personal missive from Colonel Lang.
    I’ve framed mine. It looks nice up on the mantle.

  39. Harper says:

    Once again, Col. Lang has dared to speak the unspeakable, and has identified the true madness of the unfolding events in the Caucasus. I must emphasize that the Western media as a whole has failed to deal honestly with the flight forward nature of the Saakashvili government in Georgia, which set off this chain of actions and reactions that could lead us to the brink of thermonuclear confrontation. Saakashvili deserves the description of carpetbagger. His movement, his so-called “Rose Revolution” was bankrolled by George Soros’ Open Society Institute, in league with Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, who then headed the UN Development Program and is now Secretary General of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was a Soros partner, actually managing Soros’ major hedge fund for years, and it was a combination of Soros money, Israeli backing, that put Saakashvili in the position to launch this wreckless action of early August.
    Top Russian officials, from the Foreign Minister Lavrov to the deputy chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, Gen. Nagavytsin, have warned that this threatens a new “Cuban Missile Crisis” or a replay of Sarajevo 1914. I know that some of the cooler heads in the Pentagon are keeping the military-to-military lines of communication open, but with Cheney going to the Caucasus next week, beware!

  40. CJ says:

    I’m surprised that I have not seen mentioned what should be obvious to old hands like Col. Lang. “Got a Watch” noted the grand incomptence of US/UK policy. That policy is Bernard Lewis’s “Arc of Crisis” policy from the 1970’s that was implemented by the Carter and Reagan adminisrations when the Soviets invated Afghanistan. That is, encourage and use Islamic fundamnetalism as a weapon against the Soviet southern periphery. That policy was never abandoned after the Red Army withdrew from Afghanistan and the Soviet Union went into the dustbiun of history. All of the troubles that have afflicted the Caucasus region ever since, the wars in Chechnya, Dagestan, Armenia-Azerbaijan and so forth, and now Georgia, are the product of that policy. It can lead to no good, especially when the looming global banking crisis requirs international cooperation of the world’s major powers, that is, the US, Russia, China and India, to start with, in order to address. the US/UK policy towards Russia is worse than incompetent. It’s a dark ages policy.

  41. Patrick Lang says:

    I would have thought it was obvious that American foreign policy has been idiotic in the last eight years, but if it makes you better to say so, we are all grateful for the your input. pl

  42. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “”Despite the apparent strength, the NATO naval group in the Black Sea is not battle-worthy,” Admiral Eduard Baltin said. “If necessary, a single missile salvo from the Moskva missile cruiser and two or three missile boats would be enough to annihilate the entire group.”
    “Within 20 minutes the waters would be clear,” he said, stressing that despite major reductions, the Black Sea Fleet (Image gallery) still has a formidable missile arsenal.
    However, Baltin said the chances of a military confrontation between NATO and Russia in the Black Sea are negligible.
    “We will not strike first, and they do not look like people with suicidal tendencies,” he said.”

  43. Florestan says:

    Col. Lang:
    You’ve again hit the nail on the head, but this may involve more than just Georgia but places like Estonia, and presumably other Baltic states. I hear from an Estonian acquaintance that Russia sponsored riots in Talinn when a statue of a Russian soldier was taken down. This person claims that they sent people in to riot, and that more such actions will occur. To what extent this will become a concerted and active policy to reclaim thier spere of influence cannot be known now, but the combination of dangerous adventurism and foolish bluster and the current ground force overextension it makes too much sense not to start moving these nationalist pawns to counter the unconstrainedly expansionistic neocons and their proxies.

  44. Curious says:

    The Georgian is confident after Cheney visit. Something is up.
    It seems Georgia is going to end up in Korean peninsula scenario. massive build up on the border.
    Next Russian move, unplugging Georgia from the banking and electricity grid. Then start arming guerilla war. It’ll be car bomb galore, baghdad style.
    Georgia quits Moscow 1994 ceasefire agreement
    Georgia’s reintegration minister said on Saturday that Tbilisi was formally pulling out of a 1994 UN-approved agreement signed in Moscow by Abkhazia and Georgia following a bloody conflict.
    “The Secretariat of Georgian Reintegration Minister Temur Yakobashvili has declared the Moscow agreement on a ceasefire and separation of forces of May 14, 1994 as void,” a statement said on Saturday.
    Abkhazia, alongside South Ossetia, another Georgian breakaway republic, declared its independence from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the ensuing Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. A ceasefire was signed in Moscow in 1994.

  45. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Are the Euros going to cool their jets some in the face of facts now coming known through the OSCE process?
    “Hamburg – European observers have faulted Georgia in this month’s Caucasus conflict, saying it made elaborate plans to seize South Ossetia, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday.
    In a report to appear in its Monday edition, it said officials of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had said acts by the Georgian government had contributed to the outbreak of the crisis with Russia.
    Spiegel said OSCE military observers in the Caucasus had described preparations by Georgia to move into South Ossetia.
    The onslaught had begun before Russian armoured vehicles entered a southbound tunnel under the Caucasus Mountains to South Ossetia.
    It said the OSCE report also described suspected war crimes by the Georgians, including the Georgians ordering attacks on sleeping South Ossetian civilians.”
    It will be interesting to see what the Euros turn up particularly if they raise issues of US and Israeli complicity.

  46. Curious says:

    CK beat me to it.
    OSCE reports doesn’t look good on Georgia (thus neocon crew)…
    So now, the entire NATO thing looks very shaky. because Condi basically ask NATO to back up an aggressor (an incompetent one at that too.)
    It will be interesting what the european emergency meeting will decide. But I seriously doubt europe is in the mood to keep this conflict going. (plus the Russian and Chinese are toning down, And hurricane is hitting the gulf coast again, gas price)
    btw, UK and france economic number are now completely imploding. In a few months people are going to start rioting on the street … specially in france. (there is no room to maneuver energy cost hike when Russia decide to choke europe gas supply)
    OSCE:Georgia started war and committed crimes against civilians in South Ossetia

  47. Curious says:

    “Attack Iran” talk is raising again. It starts bubbling around the net. But the usual place isn’t abuzz yet.
    (I wonder if this has anything to do with Cheney last caucasian/ME trip)
    A British newspaper has reported that the US may be about to launch a blitz against Iran “as the last resort” to block Tehran’s efforts to nuclearise. It says the preparations in the Pentagon are not just war-games but the plan is to actually make the strike. The most likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B-2 bombers, each armed with up to 40,000 pounds of precision weapons, including the latest bunker-busting devices.

  48. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    From the Telegraph with a bit of Neocon-ish hysteria:
    “US intelligence fears the Kremlin will supply the sophisticated S-300 system to Tehran if Washington pushes through Nato membership for its pro-Western neighbours Georgia and Ukraine. The proposed deal is causing huge alarm in the US and Israel as the S-300 can track 100 targets at once and fire on planes up to 75 miles away.”
    See Wiki for “S-300” entry.
    As I noted on an an earlier thread, the S-300s for Iran could well be stabilizing as they fence in Israel. It is well known the US cannot control Israel because of US “domestic politics.” The whole world sees this noting Washington can’t even prevent more illegal squatters erecting structures on Palestinian land not to mention grabbing more of Jerusalem.
    Thus, the defensive S-300 systems in Iran arguably cut against Israel as an uncontrollable “wild card” and imperial marcher state of the US… the “limes” and all that. Perhaps one should hope for timely Russian deliveries and training programs.

  49. Dana Jones says:

    “b, my concerns about relative strength and weakness centre on the assumption, implicit in the thinking of almost all so called military strategists (and I don’t claim to be one) that the United States can militarily defeat anyone on the planet any time it likes.” Walrus
    This is also what worries me. The NeoKlowns might not wait for the missile shield in Poland. The Russian military is in pretty bad shape, even though Putin has been spending more to get it back in shape. The air force is in pretty good shape, but the US probably feels that it could shut just about all Russian airbases down with cruise missiles and cluster bombs, which may be true. The Russian navy is in pretty bad shape, I have no idea at this point if they even have any SLBM subs that are operational.
    This of course leaves us with our greatest worry, their ICBMs and nuclear weapons. As they admit, thier orbital detection and threat assessment capabilities are seriously degraded, which leaves them with a launch on warning situation, and the only warning may be cruise missiles detonating over their silos. They may still be able to get a few missiles off. Are the NeoKlowns really willing to sacrifice X number of US cities for this? This is what worries me, they are insane and therefore unpredictable.
    We all KNOW that it would be insane to attack Iran or even Russia, and that it will lead to Armageddon, but those that are insane may think it a wonderful idea.

  50. Curious says:

    Russia is drawing their line and making their policy clear. At least Medvedev say it outloud they don’t want confrontation, just want their land back.
    There goes NATO weapons market.
    Ukraine next.
    Russia anounces ‘spheres of interest’
    By Charles Clover in Moscow
    August 31 2008
    Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday announced Moscow’s intention to preserve geographical spheres “of privileged interest” on or near its borders as part of a five point foreign policy statement in a television interview.

    In the announcing his five-point foreign policy, he emphasised Russia’s wish to avoid confrontation or international isolation as the result of the recent conflict, which has been widely criticised in the west. “Russia does not intend to isolate itself. We will develop, as much as possible, our friendly relations with Europe and the United States, and other nations of the world”
    He also focused on a commitment to international law, and again expressed Moscow’s now familiar antipathy to a “unipolar” world dominated by Washington, saying “this type of world is unstable and threatens conflict”.
    Mr Medvedev’s announcement that Russia has “regions of priviledged interest” is likely to be greeted with concern in the west, where it might be interpreted as the announcement that Moscow has imperial ambitions in the former Soviet Union. It is also likely to resonate in Crimea, the province of Ukraine that is dominated by ethnic Russians, ethnically Russian northern Kazakhstan, and Baltic states with large Russian minorities.
    “Russia, like other countries in the world, has regions in which it has privileged interests” said Mr Medvedev. “In these regions are located countries which have friendly relations…Russia will work attentively in these regions” he said, adding these “privileged” regions included states bordering Russia, but not only those.

  51. Curious says:

    Gah… Another hawk getting loud.
    1. Russia already warned Bush about georgia months before Olympic.
    2. Everybody knows US/Israel preparation, Sakaasvily Rose revolution. Georgia is a neocon hackery.
    3. Isolate Russia internationally? Russia answer to that is to start screwing with Israel to shut every jewish hawks within the minute. (arming Syria, Iran, Jordan and Egypt) Russia knows Israel is the beginning and the end of neocon interest. And the state department is nothing more than neocon organization by now.
    4. Albright is all for Iraq war. So she should shut the hell up. She is a war criminal.
    Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright has blasted the current US administration’s handling of the Georgia crisis, saying her first move would have been to travel to Russia for talks.
    In an interview with the online service of German news weekly Der Spiegel Sunday, Albright said she would have criticised the Russian military surge into Georgia and recognition of two Georgian rebel enclaves but reassured Moscow over its security fears.
    “I would have gone straight to Moscow, unlike the current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,” she said, in remarks printed in German.
    “I would have told the Russians in no uncertain terms that this behaviour is unacceptable. At the same time, I would have assured them that there is no threat at their borders.”
    Albright called for a decisive response by the West to the Russia’s actions in the Caucasus.
    “If (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin does not rethink this then we must find ways to isolate Russia internationally,” she said.

  52. Curious says:

    Here goes the “huge policy change”
    The military industrial complex wants to keep all their big toys.
    Regarding space shuttle:
    1. It should have been retired 20 years ago and a replacement should have been readya decade ago.
    2. unfortunately, a replacement vehicles is not as lucrative as maintaining this giant space shuttle boondagle. (It’s really work pogrom for Boeing and Space Alliance. It has nothing to do with space and space exploration. Everything to do with selling more gear and launch service to nowhere.)
    Direct result keeping the enormously expensive and non effective space shuttle alive: It retards development of cheap vehicles. And Russia – European cooperation will dominate space exploration after space shuttle really become far too expensive to do anything useful. (that would be after they launch their tug boat on Soyuz 2.5 in late 2009)
    The launch cost & frequency parity will be 3 to 1 or bigger. (Shuttle launch cost is half a billion a pop and growing.),0,3449221.story
    NASA chief asks: Can shuttle fly after 2010?
    The decision signals what could be a huge change in NASA policy. Griffin has steadfastly opposed extending the shuttle era beyond its 2010 retirement date, arguing it could kill astronauts and cripple the agency’s fledgling Constellation program, a system of new rockets and capsules meant to replace the shuttle.
    But geopolitics and political pressure are undermining his position.
    The Russian invasion of neighboring Georgia has chilled relations between Washington and Moscow. The incursion has threatened NASA’s carefully laid plans to rely on Russian spaceships to ferry astronauts to the international space station during the years between the shuttle’s retirement and the maiden voyage of NASA’s next generation of rocket in 2015.

  53. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Per Russia-US relations–
    to get out from under the US media’s bubble over the United States, and official White House propaganda, listen to the extremely interesting and significant speech by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to Moscow State University students of international relations today is available live on Russia Today online at:
    The words speak for themselves and you do not need some vapid American journalist-entertainer-talking head to
    “explain” them to you.

  54. David Habakkuk says:

    Dana Jones:
    During the Cold War, a second strike retaliatory capability never existed as a serious operational option — either for the Russians or the U.S.
    It was an abstract construct produced by academic theorists who did not study the practical problems of operationalising their ideas.
    As to the contemporary Russian situation, it is not clear that they even have a viable launch on warning capability any longer.
    The risks of inadvertent nuclear war involved in a confrontation between two opposing arsenals, both structured for launch on warning, were vastly greatly than was generally realised.
    Where one of those arsenals does not possess a warning system adequate to sustain a launch on warning posture, it would seem likely that the risks will be far greater.

  55. Curious says:

    Georgia better reevaluate their position. They are not going to last. Their 15 minutes of fame has just expired.
    Georgia August Dollar Sales Surge Amid Russia Crisis
    Georgia’s central bank sold more dollars in August than in any other month in at least nine years as the former Soviet republic sought to support the lari amid its five-day war with neighboring Russia.
    The $187.2 million that was sold amounted to almost 13 percent of Georgia’s $1.5 billion reserves, according to central bank figures. The sales were the highest since the National Bank of Georgia started to compile data on foreign-exchange interventions on its Web site in January 1999.
    An extraordinary European Union summit shelved sanctions against Russia on Monday to cover internal divisions, but the 27-nation bloc agreed to postpone meetings on negotiations of a partnership agreement.
    “Until troops have withdrawn to the positions held prior to Aug.7, meetings on the negotiation of the Partnership Agreement will be postponed,” said a conclusion issued after the summit ended following hours of discussions on the situation in Georgia and ties with Russia.

  56. Curious says:

    Israeli made M85 cluster munition found in Georgia. This doesn’t look good in europe.

  57. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Georgia as a base for Israeli strike against Iran:
    ….”In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter-bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli air force would fly over Turkey.” ….

  58. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    One benefit of reading the foreign press is that you can find interesting analyses. Over here, the media censorship news bubble over America and the news as entertainment thing combine with the generally incompetent “journalists” covering foreign affairs. Informed discussion is thus made more difficult. We can be thankful for a handful of authentic pros like Pfaff (LA Times) and de Borchgrave (UPI).
    Here is something interesting today from London:
    “The most frightening sight in recent weeks has not been the media’s metamorphosis of Russia from genial, if rather uncouth, bear into snarling wolf, but the knee-jerking of British politicians.
    “In Kiev and Tbilisi, David Miliband, the foreign secretary, and David Cameron, the Tory leader, displayed their lack of historical perspective, posturing on politico-economic faultlines of which they appear to have barely schoolboy understanding. Russia is a huge country not as far away as we would like, about which our politicians know far too little. That is most acute when it comes to the “near abroad”, the former Soviet republics to which George W Bush – and now Miliband and Cameron – would like to extend the Nato membership that the West refused Russia…..”

  59. Curious says:

    Bush is mapping the black sea. This is going to lead into submarine battle for real.
    few months from now, we gonna start hearing submarine colliding with each others in the black sea.
    (Is the result of the survey gong to be accurate? All the russian has to do is to put a submarine right under the surveyor)
    “A U.S. Pathfinder ship has entered the Black Sea,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
    USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60) is an oceanographic survey ship owned by Military Sealift Command and has a civilian crew and scientists on board.
    However, a Russian military source told RIA Novosti that ships of the Pathfinder class could be used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering purposes.
    “We have reliable information confirming that the [Pathfinder] ship has arrived in the Black Sea primarily to conduct intelligence gathering operations in support of the NATO naval task group currently deployed in the area,” the source said.
    NATO sent at least five warships, including guided missile frigates, into the Black Sea after Russia completed its operation “to force Georgia to peace” on August 12.

  60. Curious says:

    Georgia as a base for Israeli strike against Iran:
    Posted by: Clifford Kiracofe | 03 September 2008 at 06:16 AM

    very clever. I almost miss that. But by now, the entire georgian airspace is under Russia’s radar and air defense.
    btw, France/Sarkozy is leading the UNIFIL for this year. We’ll see if he lets the Israeli pass the Lebanese airspace.
    The Israeli was so angry when the German didn’t let them fly through UNIFIL area few years back.

  61. Curious says:

    “The most frightening sight in recent weeks has not been the media’s metamorphosis of Russia from genial, if rather uncouth, bear into snarling wolf, but the knee-jerking of British politicians.
    Clifford Kiracofe | 03 September 2008 at 06:48 AM
    I got the feeling Downing street needs a distraction/boogey man to hide the UK recession. Their economic number is really bad.

    anyway, the Russian is running down their list. Obviously, suddenly they realizes they can’t simply hitch the entire thing on european economy. They simply have to build international network + building their own country and neighbors. (They just sign pipe deal wil Uzbek/turk-. Several treaties was also sign in last SCO meeeting.)
    Commercial transaction between Russia and Japan is also booming.
    Once the Pacific pipeline is open, Russia can play Europe vs. Asian oil/gas market. (2011?)
    More serious sanctions are usually hard to realize, although the public considers them quite probable. For example, it’s impossible to redirect the pipes from Europe to China – the Russian economy won’t endure it. Moreover, China is not ready to consume such volumes of energy carriers at global prices. There are no pipelines going from the peninsula of Yamal to China – the whole infrastructure is Europe-oriented. The Kovyktinskoye field could become a source of energy carriers for China. But in this case the fields of Russia’s richest gas area – Yamal – would be closed.

  62. Curious says:

    Yushchenko is gone. He gonna lose election and has no coalition power as Timoshenko is changing side.
    Next president is going to be Timoshenko . Tho how she gonna hold a coalition against Yuschenko is a big question.
    probably Yuschenko has to cheat massively.
    Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko threatened to dissolve the parliament and call elections after his party quit the ruling coalition when Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko teamed up with a pro-Russian opposition party.
    Timoshenko joined former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s party and the Communist party in a vote to curtail presidential powers and reject Yushchenko’s condemnation of the Russian invasion of Georgia, another former Soviet republic, last month.
    “The coalition’s collapse may bring on early national elections as all of the big parties may see some benefits,” said Oleksandr Lytvynenko, a political analyst at Kiev-based Razumkov Center, by phone today. “We may also see a new coalition, formed by Timoshenko and Yanukovych, and that might explain Timoshenko’s neutral position on the Russian-Georgian conflict.”
    Ukraine, which is split between a Russian-speaking east and wealthier western regions, became an increasing concern for the West after Russia rolled over Georgia’s army and recognized the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The U.S. suggested that Russia may next pose a threat to Ukraine, a conduit for natural gas exports to Europe, which Yushchenko has steered toward NATO and European Union membership.

  63. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    A clear statement from the Vice President:
    “President Bush has sent me here with the clear and simple message for the people of Azerbaijan and the entire region.
    “The United States has a deep and abiding interest in your well being and security.”
    Cheney, the most senior US official to visit the Caucasus region since Russia and Georgia fought a brief war last month, said access to energy resources there and in Central Asia was a top concern for Washington.
    “Energy security is essential to us all and the matter is becoming increasingly urgent,” Cheney said after meeting Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
    “We must work with Azerbaijan and other countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia on additional routes for energy exports,” he said.

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