Two Articles on Georgia Crisis Well Worth Reading

I’m still on vacation but, like everyone else, have been quite amazed at the ongoing Georgia crisis, particularly the failure so far of the administration and the campaigns of the two presidential candidates to absorb its potential significance and the need for Washington (and the West more generally) to fundamentally reassess its global position and how over-stretched it has become. (Remember that Georgia was one of Rumsfeld’s first foreign destinations after 9/11 and was followed by a significant deployment in early 2002 of U.S. Special Forces — over Russian protests — there in what was clearly part of a much larger strategy to use the “war on terror” to build the military infrastructure for the “New American Century” in and around Eurasia.)

Two articles — both quite provocative — have appeared in the mainstream press since the crisis broke that have underlined the potential historic significance of the ongoing crisis. While they are not completely convincing, they nonetheless are well worth reading and meditating over. The first is Paul Krugman’s “The Great Illusion” which appeared in the NY Times August 15. It suggests that the latest events may herald the curtain’s fall on the second great age of globalization, the first having taken place from the end of the 19th century to August, 1914. Of course, the comparison of the two ages — with respect to terrorism (then anarchism), vast social dislocations caused by industrialization and imperialism, as well as the high degree of economic integration — is hardly new, but Krugman’s thumbnail analysis is, as I noted, thought-provoking.

“By itself, …the war in Georgia isn’t that big a deal economically,” Krugman writes. “But it does mark the end of the Pax Americana — the era in which the United States more or less maintained a monopoly on the use of military force. And that raises some real questions about the future of globalization.” The article brings in a number of pertinent examples of rising nationalism in the economic, as well as the strategic and political spheres, that today’s policymakers, politicians and publics might well consider before reflexively taking Georgia’s side. Serb nationalists had a pretty good case against the Austro-Hungarian Empire back in 1914, too.

The second article, by former Singaporean diplomat and veteran provocateur Kishore Mahbubani, appeared in yesterday’s Financial Times under the headline “The West is Strategically Wrong on Georgia.” Mahbubani, who notes the hypocrisy of U.S. outrage (and how it appears to publics in Latin America and the Islamic world, in particular) over Russian actions, is particularly succinct about the strategic choices faced by the U.S. and the West at this juncture and argues for a fundamental strategic reassessment based on an understanding that the West can no longer “dictate terms” to the rest of the world as it has assumed it could do since the end of the Cold War. In fact, he argues, both the U.S. and the West have become terribly isolated from what the Bush administration loves to call “the international community.” His analysis of what strategic choices are now available to the West –it can afford only so many enemies and so should be much more discriminating in its choices — is particularly acute. Interestingly, Mahbubani, author of The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East (2008), ends on a more optimistic note than Krugman (although I, presumably like Krugman, believe that nationalism in Asia is as likely to undermine the burgeoning “Pacific Century” as U.S. over-extension and arrogance have wreaked havoc with Bill Kristol’s and Bob Kagan’s cherished but chimerical “New American Century”.)

While the notion that the Georgia crisis takes us back to the end of the Cold War and the “return of history” has become a cliche among most of the commentariat (while some neo-cons predictably compare it to the Sudetenland, Munich and 1938), both columns see the present moment as signaling much deeper historical and even epochal challenges to U.S. and western hegemony in what is now, ever more clearly, a multipolar world that rejects Pax Americana. And, if U.S. leaders, actual and imminent, continue to insist on a hard line toward Russia, that rejection will very likely extend to Europe, as well. Indeed, western (or “old”) Europe, in particular, has some major strategic decisions of its own to make, having seen where its habitual deference to Washington has gotten it.

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

31 thoughts on “Two Articles on Georgia Crisis Well Worth Reading”

  1. NATO supply lines to Afghanistan include Russian Federation airspace.

    Lavrov has just suggested that if NATO does not wish to play ball such supply lines may be cancelled.

    Under that threat was the even more serious threat–if NATO does not cooperate with the Russians, the Russians will allow the supply lines through Russian airspace to continue.

    Grandmasters at work, and with wry humor.

    1. Although I did not get what the last “threat” was about…

      There is an opinion in Russia, that US/NATO in Afganistan are contributing more to heroin production over there, then to curbing it. I.e. there is a strong supply line of heroin from the Afganistan into Russia. So, getting US/NATO out of Afganistan may result in reduction of heroin illegal import to Russia from Afganistan.

      I share that opinion on general theory that US does everything to harm Russia, therefore, unless heroin is good :-) getting rid of US involvement will make things better.

      There was much less heroin traffic from there before US invasion of Afganistan.

      1. There’s a story ultimately traceable to Sarkozy, and which was mentioned in the Sunday Times Online.

        Supposedly, having rushed to Moscow to calm the waters after the Georgian sneak attack on Ossetia and the Russian response, Sarkozy first saw Medvedev, calm and conciliatory though not apologetic, then a vitriolic, outspoken Putin.

        “It’s just like the flicks, ” Putin is supposed to have said to Sarkozy, “There is a good cop and a bad cop.”

        There’s nothing on its face unpersuaive about the story. The western media has been picturing the Medvedev and Putin as good cop and bad cop respectively for some time. And Putin himself is familiar both with the media, and, far more than he shows, with western popular culture like film.

        Finally, Putin may seem taciturn, without the fluidity and talkativeness that many Russians find in vodka, but he has cutting wit and a mordant sense of humor.

        But even that is not the whole story.

        If the story is true, Sarkozy immediately jumped to the conclusion that Putin’s bon mot was directed at Putin himself and Medvedev.

        Yet, from all outward signs both Sarkozy and Bush had to have known about the surprise Georgian attack before it occurred, and whatever they or their minions may or may have not have done to dissuade Saakashvili.

        Moreover, Bush had just confronted Putin in Beijing, and here was Sarkozy before him with soft words and conciliation.

        It apparently never occurred to Sarkozy that Putin’s good cop and bad cop also may have referred to him and Bush.

      2. The Taliban was created by the CIA with Osama Bin Laden to get the Russians out of Afghanistan.
        The Taliban were fine until they started to stop the poppies. Then all of a sudden they were to be ousted. Lets get real here.
        Its not only about oil but about drugs too. One of the top three earners on the planet and the source of funds for all kinds of black ops run by the Americans, Brits and allies.
        One of the reasons Kosovo was illegally snatched from Serbia is because it is the conduit for the drug trade from Afghanistan and onwards. The Serbs had more scuples than the American/Bin Laden creation the KLA. Islamic terrorists and drug dealers par excellence. But of course, American islamic terrorists – so thats OK then.
        The war on drugs by the west is anything but.

        1. * The illicit drug trade is how the power elite generate the income for their clandestine activities…plus the dope they peddle is a very devastating weapon that has many deleterious effects upon the society were it’s introduced. They make billions upon billions playing both sides of the “war on drugs”.

          Russia and China both know who’s behind their drug problems.

          PS…the truth makes me feel all warm and tickley inside! Thanks again Elizabeth! ;)

  2. “For example, war among the nations of Western Europe really does seem inconceivable now, not so much because of economic ties as because of shared democratic values.

    Much of the world, however, including nations that play a key role in the global economy, doesn’t share those values. ”

    When translating this from the newspeak, I replace “democratic values” with “US puppet”, and “does not share those values” with “are not US protectorates”.

    It amazes me how brain washed West is. Of course, if you have US bases in two countries, and if US military might there is 5 times more then any of the local Armies, and if these local Armies are under US command, it is unlikely they would engage in a combat.

    You know – armies of Eastern Germany was unlikely to engage in a war with Poland (as members of Warsaw treaty).

    Notice, I’m not saying that this is a bad way to prevent wars in Europe from happening. Maybe it’s the only one. But is the goal of not having wars above of the goal of being slaves (in general sense)? What is some people think that cozy life is not the only virtue to go after?

    Now, since US does not dominate the whole world, and since such model of domination is inferior economically to a model of sovereign nation-states… the outcome is obvious.

  3. “our grandfathers lived in a world of largely self-sufficient, inward-looking national economies — but our great-great grandfathers lived, as we do, in a world of large-scale international trade and investment, a world destroyed by nationalism.”

    I don’t have the slightest idea what he’s talking about here. the rest of it was pretty darn strange too.

    1. This is my translation from newspeak:

      “Our grandfathers lived in a world of largely self-sufficient, inward-looking national economies — but our great-great grandfathers lived, as we do, in a world dominated by British/US Empire, an Empire destroyed by nationalism” (as usual)

      OK, that is certainly true. But Empires tend to fall – sooner or later, that is also true. After they fall there is turmoil and wars between equally powerful nations start to happen. After that another Empire emerges, but that does not happen in a few years, even not in few decades. UK-US is in a sense one Empire, just morphing.

      Welcome to the end of history – NOT.

      Now, we have a new variable these days – nuclear weapon, which is more efficient against well developed metropolis are more prone to that weapon. Now we have Russia and US that have 10 times more charges each then any other state. How would all that play? At this point I don’t know.

      1. “…but our great-great grandfathers lived, as we do, in a world dominated by British/US Empire”

        Your translation is exact.

        One might argue about the historical reality of what the original tries to aver.
        It was indeed very few great-great grandfathers that lived in that world.

        Most Americans are too little acquainted with how intensely the Neo-Cons operate within the framework and imagery of the now defunct “Anglo-American Empire”, the cadaver of which they move about from coffin to bar, and now and then even do a jig with, like the stiff at an olden day Irish wake.

        Lavrov put the matter succinctly–the fate of NATO hinges on the “war” in Afghanistan, which has been going on, hot and cold, and in one form or another and with various parties, since the late 1950’s.

        The fate of NATO in turn is the the fate of the corpse of “Anglo-American” imperialism.

        The stench, which gets worse every year, suggests burial or cremation will be none too soon, with or without the company of some of corpse’s drunken and lunatic dance partners.

        The Poles just made a serious blunder, as did Sarkozy.

        It will be interesting to see if Karzai is too much a prisoner not to begin a dialogue of sorts with the Russian Federation.

  4. Whereas the first article is just written in newspeak, yet coherent, the 2nd one is a mess…

    Maybe my command of English is to blame, but I can’t make sense of this:

    Western thinkers must decide where the real long-term challenge is. If it is the Islamic world, the US should stop intruding into Russia’s geopolitical space and work out a long-term engagement with China. If it is China, the US must win over Russia and the Islamic world and resolve the Israel-Palestine issue. This will enable Islamic governments to work more closely with the west in the battle against al-Qaeda.

    Let me try to translate into something more readable:

    if (long_term_chanlenge(ISLAMIC_WORLD))
    { get_out_of(geopolitical_sphere(RUSSIA)); long_term_engagement(CHINA); }
    elsif (long_term_challenge(CHINA))
    { win_over(RUSSIA); win_over(ISLAMIC_WORLD); resolve(ISRAEL,PALESTINE); }

    There are few problems there. What does win_over() mean? It means either winning the game against, or becoming friendly with. Not becoming a friend :-) Ambiguity. First is difficult for both RUSSIA and ISLAMIC_WORLD. Second is very difficult with RUSSIA by now (no trust left), and I’d say impossible with ISLAMIC_WORLD. Anyways, notice that win_over() means getting advantage over – this way or another. Speaking of resolve(), I think the following is true:
    { ISRAEL|| PALESTINE == ISRAEL, ISRAEL || PALESTINE=PALESTINE, ISRAEL && PALESTINE == 0 }, so I don’t see solutions that have both ISRAEL and PALESTINE in the set.

    So, on many accounts if long_term_challenge(CHINA), then West looses the game. And I’m quite certain that CHINA is the long term challenge. I simply don’t understand WHAT is the long terms challenge of ISLAMIC_WORLD, but certainly resolve(ISRAEL,PALESTINE) is pretty much empty.

    Therefore, because of ISRAEL West can not win. ISRAEL was not a good idea (for US/UK Empire) But…. was not Stalin behind that idea from day 1? Didn’t Stalin back it up as much as possible? Was not USSR the 2nd (!) (after the US) state that recognized the ISRAEL only hours after it’s inception? Did not he (Stalin) even planned purge of Jews before his death (and some say that he was poisoned because of that), to give them additional incentive to move to ISRAEL. Did not Eastern Block supplied all the arms for initial Israel Army?

    So, the legacy of Stalin seems to determine good position for Russia. On both accounts of creating ISRAEL and NUCLEAR_SWORD for Russia. Sic.

    Now, speaking of the wisdom of Mao. He was much wiser then the author supposes:
    He said China always had to deal with its primary contradiction and compromise with its secondary contradiction. When the Soviet Union became the primary contradiction, Mao settled with the US, even though it involved the humiliation of dealing with a power that then recognised Chiang Kai-shek as the legitimate ruler.

    Firstly, there never was a bona fide threat from USSR to China (and the other way round). Never, ever. There was not one major war between Russian Empire and China. Never. Russians like Chinese and the other way round. It is simply the fact, apparent in immediate perception.

    So, the year is 1955 or so. USSR is in Cold War with the West. Arms race rolling ahead, nuclear warheads are counted hundreds, then thousands. China is far behind in that race. USSR had given China the nuclear weapon technology though. Just in case. As a matter of fact -that is a sign of a very close alliance. Closer then US/Israel for example.

    China has a choice – to openly affiliate with Russia, which makes it “junior brother”, which is absurd, since there is 1 bln people, and what China can offer to Russia in the alliance? Not much.

    So, USSR and Chine should get into a conflict. It should be bona fide conflict on the surface, not words should be spoken to each other. Then China can lure the West into thinking it can become an ally of the West against the USSR.

    Fast forward. China has become the factory for the West. West can not do w/o Chinese exports. All modern technology is available to China. USSR is gone by then. Russia and China don’t have anything before an alliance can be established. But there is still no need to rush. West should spread itself even thiner then now.

    If anything, contradiction with the USSR was purely *tactical*, whereas contradiction with US/UK Empire was and is the *primary*.

    Is there anything that can be done by US to continue to be the “Kind of the Hill”? No. Would leaving gracefully allow for more options in 20 years? Yes – look at USSR/Russia. Is there enough brain in the US to do that? No.

    End of End of History.

  5. Because of the very determined secularist and anti-religionist bias of and other so-called ‘alternative’ media, it is not at all surprising that these two articles would be considered “well worth reading”.

    But BOTH of them miss the larger context–what the military sometimes refers to as the “BIG Picture”; which, in this case, is the Prophecies of Daniel.

    This conflict, with Georgia being an iteration of the “king of the South” and South Ossetia being an iteration of the “king of the North”, was a small-scale macro-iteration (fulfillment) of the fractal Prophecies of Daniel 11:40-45;further iterations of which will occur on a larger-scale (at least ONE of which will occur as a MICRO-iteration)towards the full-scale iteration of those Prophecies leading to Daniel 12:1.

    But you will NOT hear this from the Christian ‘Armageddon’ theologians because this would utterly RUIN their DELUSIONAL interpretations of the Prophecies of Daniel in the context of the *bizarre* doctrine of the “anti-Christ”, and their even *more* bizarre doctrine of the ‘Rapture’.

    Translation: They would lose their jobs/go bankrupt.

    Nor will the secular media blow the Christian theologians’ cover since they are nothing more than *stenographers* in the first place–much BETTER stenographers for the theologians than they EVER were for the Pentagon, the White House, or the neo-con politicians.

    Michael Cecil

    1. Why – I’m all pro-God and pro-faith.

      The big picture is quite simple – God protects Russia as the only bastion of the True Christian Faith.
      Let me remind you, that when German Army was next to Moscow, winter of 1941, Stalin reversed completly USSR attitude towards religion, ordered to have a service in on of the major churches of Kremlin and also started to pray in a smaller chapel next to his residence.
      That was turning point in The War, the churches started to reopen all over the country, and we know the rest.
      Thus, everybody who is trying to destroy Russia would be destroyed himself. We, Russians, have faith in that.

      And Russia wants only Peace, unfortunately, forces of Evil are not letting her alone…

    2. I beg to differ. I do not see an anti-religious bias in
      In fact, its sister site,, is quite openly pro-religious.
      I see this as a good thing, despite the fact that I am a secularist, because liberty depends on people of all faiths making a commitment to live together in peace and tolerance.
      I’m also glad to see that you have a different interpretation of the Bible’s prophetic books than the bloodthirsty Christian right warmongers. Still, it proves my point that prophecy of any sort is meaningless, because people can always interpret it to mean what they want it to mean, It’s like believers in astrology rationalizing their daily horoscope fix.

      Vaughn T

  6. The “End of History”, as Hegel proclaimed it originally, can loosely be interpreted as finally knowing how it works. The “End of History”, as Fukuyama proclaimed it fraudulently, can concretely be interpreted as asserting that finally this is how we are going to make it work. Hence, to be sure, the “Return of History”, can be regarded as admitting that America and its cohorts have not been able to make it work like Fukuyama and his estranged co-ideologists wanted to make it work. Unless of course they are really serious in doing a real “End of History”, and have a secret spaceship with Hegel’s bones in it, and waiting to take the whole gang of prophets of doom to a secret space sanctuary built somewhere on or beyond Mars. After that, all they have to do is change Jesus’s, (or “Kingdom come’s”?), return address.

  7. “Unless of course they are really serious in doing a real “End of History”, and have a secret spaceship with Hegel’s bones in it, and waiting to take the whole gang of prophets of doom to a secret space sanctuary built somewhere on or beyond Mars. After that, all they have to do is change Jesus’s, (or “Kingdom come’s”?), return address.”


    1. As in destroying the world with their love of perpetual war, and also as in their endless love for their filthy selves.

      1. You put your finger on the essential contradiction–they are in love with the idea of perpetual war, but strictly theoretically. Their love for themselves makes it strictly a matter of war fought and suffered by those others moronic and fearful enough to do their bidding.

        1. Their love for themselves makes it strictly a matter of war fought and suffered by those others moronic and fearful enough to do their bidding.

          Or perhaps more accurately, those weak and pliable enough to be FORCED to do their bidding.

    1. Good article Elizabeth, thank you. ;)

      But this begs the question: if they’re willing to do this what else are they willing to do?! Indeed, what else have they done?!

  8. Still, if the Taliban had accepted UNOCAL’s offer to partner in the natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan then Bush probably would have accepted their offer immediately after 9-11…( the Taliban denounced the attacks on innocent civilians and told the US govt to show them whatever proof they had and they would help apprehend OBL ) and they would be our partners in the BS “GWOT”…

  9. All this comment and critique is just pissing in the wind, namely, the mindless liberal or libertarian belief that the solution to the world’s problems is ‘free markets’ within which good little freedom loving americans can once again assume their rightful place as the ‘free world”s beloved heroes. This at least appears to be the Buchananite thesis, though I dare say that intervention would continue to occur, especially where brown people get uppity in any way.

    1. “especially where brown people get uppity in any way.”

      Good that you have clarified your view already, little “master” Rowan.

    2. Rowan Berkeley are you writting about liberals, libertarians, both or some strange new highbred (there are quite a few of those around)? It’s pretty hard to get a hold of what your trying to say. I think your saying that liberals, libertarians, and anyone who believes in free markets or non-intervention is mindless. Is that correct? Well I guess it doesn’t matter what label you choose to place on me (I guess you can just call me Mindless). I believe that actual free markets and non-intervention policies would go a long way toward a cure for what ails the US. I’m not saying that’s going to happen. There are simply too many people in power who love the statis quo of endless wars and endless taxes to pay for their mindless interventions and mindless liberal handouts. However, there is always the chance that the mindless sheeple of the US will wake up. I hope so anyway, in fact I think that’s the only Hope we have. Of course me and my mindless head could be wrong and we should just stick with the status quo and hope that somehow things will magically change on their own.


      1. The problem with “actual free markets” is that no one can explain what are the forces that would prevent “free markets” turning into “non-free markets”. Those that have power to keep markets free may apply that power to enslave them. The only way to ensure that markets are free indeed is to have global competition between superpowers. Then IF “free market” is more efficient, it would prevail.

        1. What amazes me is how we have these so called free trade agreements that are hundreds of pages long. How long does it need to be if it’s actually free trade? I would think it would take about one paragraph. For example.

          We (the US) agree to full and complete trade with any nation on earth at any time without procondition. We furthermore agree that we will always charge all nations the exact same tarrif without procondition.

          Now that would be free trade, treating every nation on earth with the same respect and laws regardless of what we feel about their politics or religions etc. Not only would this be great for our economy but also our standing in the world community. It very well may be that we could actually amend our constitution for just such a provision. but like anything else the US public would first need to be educated as to why this is the best possible solution.


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