Daily Archives: August 19, 2008

August 22, 2008 — Contents

FRIDAY AUGUST 22 CONTENTS

(1) EDITORIAL: Is Dima Medvedev a Liar, or Just an Idiot?

(2) EDITORIAL: Glory Days

(3) Essel on Making the Russians Keep their Word

(4) Felgenhauer on Georgia

(5) Russia, Losing Again

(6) Applebaum Asks: What is Russia Afraid of?

(7) The Mailbag

(*) Join the Fight: Say NO! to Sochi

NOTE: A bipartisan group of U.S. legislators is calling for an invitation to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to address a joint session of Congress. If you’re an American, call or write your representative or senator and tell them you support this outstanding initiative! If you’re not, contact your own national legislature and ask them to do the same.

NOTE: Check out Civil.ge for updates on Georgia from the source.

EDITORIAL: Is Dima Medvedev a Liar, or Simply an Idiot

The glorious Russian army takes the surrender of yet another powerful enemy in Georgia

The glorious Russian army takes the surrender of yet another powerful enemy in Georgia

EDITORIAL

Is Dima Medvedev a Liar, or Simply an Idiot

Russia’s so-called “president” Dmitri Medvedev told the President of France his troops would stop fighting a few days after they invaded Georgia with no warning to the international community, much less to Georgia.

Instead of doing so, they then plunged deeper into Georgia, threatening the capital, and blew up the main railway line linking the country east to west. 

The world became furious, and demanded that a ceasefire be imposed.  Medvedev signed a second agreement, pledging to begin withdrawing his forces on Monday.  But the New York Times reported early Tuesday morning Moscow time that, once again, Medvedev was not true to his word.  The paper wrote:

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EDITORIAL: Days of Glory

EDITORIAL

Days of Glory

Film history pop quiz for Russians:  What movie was made in 1944, directed by Jacques Tourneur (“Cat People” and “Berlin Express”) and starring screen legend Gregory Peck?

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Essel: Making the Russians Keep Their Word

Making the Russians Keep Their Word

by Dave Essel

Russia honors most treaties more in the breach than in the observance. Though unlikely to surprise readers of LR, the non-withdrawal of its forces from Georgia is nothing more than international banditry. Russia behaves the same way with contracts (ask TNK-BP and a host of others!). I really don’t know why governments and businesses bother to conclude any such things with Russia.

Just as Basmanny Sud (Court) is now a byword for ‘telephone justice” under which the judge gets a phone call from above with instructions on what verdict to bring in, we do not have to look far for a byword for dishonourableness – “Russian treaty observance” provides the necessary oxymoron.

I have written recently about looking for ways to provoke and infuriate Russia in response to its recent outrages. Thinking about this brought to mind a very vague and distant recollection from the 1st Cold War of a European city council (Brussels) supporting a dissident (Solzhenitsyn) by renaming the street in which the Soviet Embassy was located to that dissident’s name and then officially advising the Soviet Embassy that incorrectly addressed mail would be returned to sender. I can imagine the vicious fury of the Soviet bureaucrats at this treatment.

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Felgenhauer on Georgia

The brilliant Pavel Felgenhauer, writing in Novaya Gazeta and translated by Robert Amsterdam:

Today it is perfectly obvious to me that the Russian incursion into Georgia was planned in advance, moreover the final political decision to complete preparation and begin the war in August was, it would seem, taken already in April.

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Russia, Losing Again

Writing in the Detroit Free Press Frank Richter, who taught international relations at Wayne State University and is a member of the World Affairs Council, exposes Russia’s fundamental failure in the Georgia war:

Russia’s invasion of Georgia came at a huge cost. The Russian causality rate was nearly 100 times the rate suffered by U.S. forces during the Iraq invasion. Russian media estimate the invasion force to number between 8,000 to 15,000 men, with 74 soldiers killed.

Russia has a long history of military disasters. Most of its largest neighbors have defeated Russia in war. For the Russian public, it is this memory of military misfortune that makes Moscow’s illusory victory over Georgia meaningful.

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What is Russia Afraid of?

Anne Applebaum, writing in Slate, answers: Russia is afraid of freedom.

Forty years ago this week, on the night of Aug. 20 and early morning of Aug. 21, 1968, thousands of tanks and hundreds of thousands of soldiers rolled into Czechoslovakia. The goal of the invasion was straightforward: to prevent a Soviet satellite from carrying out democratic reforms, which, if they had been allowed to succeed, could have threatened the legitimacy of the governments of the other Soviet satellites and, indeed, of the Soviet Union itself.

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