Georgia Conflict - Open Thread

The Georgian conflict seems to continue at this time, with no direct impact on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which is not far from the fighting. These are a few articles I noticed about the conflict:

Analysis: energy pipeline that supplies West threatened by war Georgia conflict

Georgia has no significant oil or gas reserves of its own but it is a key transit point for oil from the Caspian and central Asia destined for Europe and the US.

Crucially, it is the only practical route from this increasingly important producer region that avoids both Russia and Iran.

The 1,770km (1,100 miles) Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which entered service only last year, pumps up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from Baku in Azerbaijan to Yumurtalik, Turkey, where it is loaded on to supertankers for delivery to Europe and the US. Around 249km of the route passes through Georgia, with parts running only 55km from South Ossetia.

East-West struggle drives conflict

The West, in particular America, has stoked the regional fire. At the NATO summit in Bucharest this year it pressed for Georgia and Ukraine’s membership of the alliance. The move was blocked by the Europeans but NATO did give a commitment to offer the two countries membership later. That move was seen in Moscow as a challenge to its dominance in what it calls the "near abroad," the former Soviet republics.

Since then Russia has made clear in word and deed that it will do anything to prevent NATO’s expansion on its western and southern flanks.

Georgian conflict puts U.S. in middle

"The conflict has potentially serious implications for Russian-U.S. relations, and Russian-Western relations," said Dmitri Trenin, deputy director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow. "The Russians are watching intently what the U.S. will do, as an indication of how the U.S. will pursue its relationship with Russia going forward."

U.S. voices its concerns as Georgia-Russia conflict spreads to Abhazia

Russian warplanes on Saturday bombed two villages in the Georgia-controlled part of the Kodori gorge, cutting deep into Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, prompting the United States to voice its concerns over the "dangerous escalation" of the crisis. Georgia approved state of war for 15 days and called for an "immediate ceasefire."

Georgia says new air attacks hit near capital and key oil pipeline

Overnight, Russian warplanes bombed the Vaziani military base on the outskirts of the Georgian capital and near the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said. He also said two other military bases were hit, and that warplanes bombed the Black Sea port city of Poti, which has a sizable oil shipment facility.

Map of Region (posted yesterday)

This is going to be interesting. Georgia is the aggressor here... The price of oil would depend on how the world reacts to it...

I think it is early to assume Georgia as the "aggressor" here. This IS Russia we're talking about. The bear has awakened from 25 years of hibernation, and he is in a foul temper!

Russia wins, like Iran, by doing nothing.

Note any "allies" coming into help Georgia?

"To bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO would put America in the middle of these quarrels. We could be dragged into a confrontation with Russia over Abkhazia, or South Ossetia, or who owns Sebastopol. To bring these ex-republics of the Soviet Union into NATO would be an affront to Moscow not unlike 19th century Britain bringing the Confederate state of South Carolina under the protection of the British Empire.

How would Lincoln’s Union have reacted to that?

With a weary army and no NATO ally willing to fight beside us, how could we defend Georgia if Tbilisi, once in NATO, defied Moscow and invaded Abkhazia and South Ossetia — and Russia bombed the Georgian army and capital? Would we declare war? Would we send the 82nd Airborne into the Pankisi Gorge?

Fortunately, Germany is prepared to veto any Bush attempt to put Ukraine or Georgia on a fast track into NATO. But President Bush is no longer the problem. John McCain is.

As Anatol Lieven writes in the Financial Times, McCain supports a restoration of Georgian rule over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine. He wants to throw Russia out of the G-8 — and talks flippantly of bombing Iran."

The US military is spread thin. Putin unlike Bush is no fool. He knows when to strike and where.
DO NOT forget last winter they cut flows of nat gas. This is serious gamesmanship. I think someone like Boone Pickens is who we need in the drivers seat not these Bush McCain clones.

Putin has been licking his wounds for decades. Russia is ready to reclaim superpower status, with energy control as a key part of the agenda.

Russia wants to put the US on notice that its goal of increasing regional influence and boxing in Russia won't work. I imagine Russia wants the US to drop its missile-shield plan, in exchange for "playing nice" for another few years.

However, if the US doesn't back down gracefully and Russia continues to press Georgia, the US will almost certainly press back somewhere, probably a limited attack on Iran's nuke facilities and air-defense network. Unlike Vietnam, though, where both US and Russian actions had long logistics tails, the Russians are playing much closer to home this time around, and they are in growth mode while the US is struggling. They can needle the US without much effort, while the US will be hard-pressed to increase the force level in the gulf region.

Certainly there is an opportunity for this conflict to increase regional instability, and any of the hot locales could potentially involve a few mega-barrels of oil in production.

I think someone like Boone Pickens is who we need in the drivers seat

Boone Pickens is no Jack Kennedy....

The US would never be able to hold Iraq if the resistance there was given modern man portable anti aircraft and anti tank weapons. Or Afghanistan. We can't press Russia. We broke our own leg, and now want to pick fights. Sigh.

Less angry shaking fists, more brains.

The games played with tanks and troops are the obvious ones. It's the "brainy" ones played with money, influence, favoritism, oppression, trade deals, and so forth that are less visible but more significant long term, and which set the stage for the "bloody" ones.

"played with money, influence, favoritism, oppression,trade deals, and so forth "

None of these suggestions seem realistic to me. Who believes our money will be worth anything? Maybe we will gain some influence AFTER we leave Iraq, but how long after? That will be a long time after this crisis in Georgia is resolved.

The danger for Russia in going down the path of supplying anti tank and anti aircraft weapons to insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan is that many of those weapons would go back to Russia with Chechyn volunteers.
And if America was bloodied by Russian supplied weapons then they may also up the ante by supplying arms to the Chechyns and others. The Russians could only cut off Europes gas as payback and the yanks wouldn't care (payback for lack of support by Europe).
Hopefully common sense prevails on all sides.

Hopefully common sense prevails on all sides.


Yeah -- if they have a bit more common sense then we probably won't be down the path we are right now. Asking for common sense from these folks is like asking them to lay an egg. It won't happen. There is so much pressure to hold up their ego that once a path is taken, it will take a tremendous effort to reverse it. I don't see Russia backing down -- Georgia will have to declare some sort of concession.

For Georgia to declare some sort of concession would be a sign of defeat and a bruised ego for the Georgian rulers (local and American).
I guess I don't have much hope that the situation will be comprehensivly settled. Any short term concessions are likely to fester as a wound under a bandage would, eventually it gets ripped off in pain with alot of blood shed.

Fortunately, Germany is prepared to veto any Bush attempt to put Ukraine or Georgia on a fast track into NATO

Germany official reason for vetoing the fast track to NATO due to unsettled secessionist conflicts.

If Georgia's leaders were realistic they would recognize that Russia will never allow them to regain control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (it should be obvious to even a politician now)

If they were to recognize them as independent states Russia would no longer have that lever to manipulate them nor would the EU nations have that excuse to keep them out of their clubs.

Of course seeing how doing this would most likely be the end of that leader's career this would require a leader to put his country's future ahead of his career so it will never happen.

"Georgia is the aggressor here..."

What part of Russia is Georgia bombing? How many Russian civilians has Georgia killed so far?

I do not pretend to understand everything that is going there, but the reports of Russian bombing of Georgian areas that have nothing to do with South Ossetia tells me that Russia has significantly upped the ante here.

How many Russian civilians has Georgia killed so far?

Many South Ossetians carry Russian passports seemingly, so to answer your question, quite a lot probably.

There are about 70,000 South Ossetians and most (by choice) have taken Russian passports. One could argue that if Georgia has the right to be separate from Russia then South Ossetia has the right to be separate from Georgia?

1989 South Ossetia declared its autonomy from Georgia.
1990 Georgia and South Ossetia began an armed conflict.
1992 Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian leaders signed an armistice and agreed the creation of a tripartite peacekeeping force of 500 soldiers from each entity.
2006 South Ossetia overwhelmingly endorses its split with Georgia in a referendum.

7 August 2008 Fighting breaks out between Georgian and separatist South Ossetian forces. Georgia says its forces have "freed" the greater part of the Ossetian capital. Reportedly Russian peacekeepers have suffered 12 dead and 150 wounded.
8 August 2008 Russian forces move into South Ossetia.

IMHO the Georgian offensive has only been made possible by Western military aid. I do not think Russian forces have been involved in any foreign "adventures" since they left Afghanistan in 1989.

"The first casualty when war comes is truth". Hiram W Johnson

According to Georgia, a day before the attack of Geoergia, South Ossetian separatist forces attacked villages in Georgia (Nuli and Avnevi) causing civilian casualties.

Now, it will become increasingly difficult to deduct the truth sitting on a couch when war breaks out. Both sides will used propaganda. It will be difficult to separate truth from outright lies.

As such, I'd not be so quick to judge who is 'right'. In war there usually are no such parties.

The situation is unfortunate and I fear for more casualties. Russia is unlikely to back down and Georgia is being helped by USA (even if it's in the background).

The civilians in-between end up suffering.

Looks like cold war is rearing it's ugly head again in local theaters.

How many Russian civilians has Georgia killed so far?

1,500 in the first two days of the conflict, according to several sources on the ground. Note that an estimated 35,000 residents of South Ossetia, or 50% of the area's total population, have already fled to Russia. They know very well what will happen to them if they were to stay on the Georgian side of the border.

We have to remember the caution about the truth being the first casualty of war. I'm sure the Russians are being told (and believing for the most part), about Georgian inflicted casualties. You can bet the Georgians are hearing something else. We won't know the real truth, until sometime after things settle down. It seems to me that both sides have taken overagressive moves. The Georgians for launching the thing. And it looks like the Russians hitting of military targets within Georgia proper, is overly provacative. Meanwhile emotions on both sides are probably spinning out of control.

We have to remember the caution about the truth being the first casualty of war.

Very true! It is very hard to determine the exact number of casualties when there is a messy war under way. At the height of the US attack on Yugoslavia, the number of casualties among Albanian civilians in Kosovo was estimated to be as high as 100,000 by the US media, but turned out to be less than 2,000 once the actual bodies were counted.

On the other hand, the basic facts of the Georgian army attacking Tskhinvali and causing the first several hundred casualties, including dozens of Russians peacekeepers that were stationed there since 1992, are not in dispute (although rarely if ever mentioned in the Western media).

It doesn't matter who started it. I mean, the Korean War was started by the South doing raids into the North, trying to provoke them in the hopes that in an all-out war the US would support them in conquering the North.

But who remembers that now?

It is being reported Russia has bombed and devastated a port along the Black Sea that is important for the shipping of energy exports and is close to the Baku-Supsa pipeline and the Supsa oil terminal.It has also been reported Russia has bombed a NATO base!?

Russian brass are aware of America's plan to wipe out Iranian Euro denominated oil trade and are positioning themselves for the big showdown. We all know darn well this is about oil - the plateau in production is about to decline - and all of the major powers are aware of this.Do not be suprised when China makes a move towards war with America (perhaps through attacking Taiwan) and North Korea makes a move on South Korea. All of the political rhetoric aside - this is not a 'conflict' in Georgia - this is a WAR, and it is an axiomatic war over money and oil.

I have this sick feeling inside many civilians are being killed as we post.

I hope all of you realize this is more than just an economic collapse, peak oil, and WW3; the end game calls for control of every human being on the face of the earth, and it will come to pass.

God help us to understand.

This is a possibility. The timing of it all during the Olympics is quite disturbing. It forces China to stand pat unless it gets "crazy" out of control. I think things will stay somewhat contained while the Olympics are progressing. After the Olympics, either Russia will finish up its aggressive phase of this current move and settle down a bit or this thing will have expanded beyond Georgia (signs this morning is that it is NOT being contained...i.e. Ukraine's statement about the Russian navy not being allowed back to port).

China makes a move towards war with America (perhaps through attacking Taiwan)

China doesn't want war with the US & has no reason to. With their economic growth rate of the last 30 years, and a population over four times as great as the US, the obvious plan is to build economic power until the US is sidelined. Foreign disputes will be confined to those necessary to secure the required natural resources. In this context, Taiwan is actually a method of the US provoking a war with China if & when it decides one is required. The long-standing US policy is to guarantee Taiwan's security, on the proviso that the cross-Strait status quo is maintained. If Taiwan declares independence, the guarantee is voided. All that would be required for the US to change course and move towards war would be for the US to tell the Taiwanese government that the security guarantee would still stand if they declared independence.

Washington received a setback earlier this year, however, when the KMT returned to power in the recent Taiwan elections, ousting the Taiwanese nationalists on a program of lowing the temperature across the Strait of Taiwan. The prospect of Beijing eventually winning over Taiwan peacefully is a reasonable possibility, especially as the deal on offer is an enhancement of the "one country, two systems" one for Hong Kong. The enhancement is that Taiwan gets to retain its own army - a not inconsiderable factor in guaranteeing the "two systems" clause.

North Korea makes a move on South Korea

North Korea is nobody's pawn and is a rule unto itself. It attempted to get nuclear weapons because it wasn't satisfied with the terms of China's security guarantee, but seems to be backing down. I don't know whether it achieved what it wanted to or not, or whether its objective had more to do with a change in US policy or with improving the guarantee from China.

In any event, North Korea does not plan to invade South Korea. It does have a paranoid government which could easily be provoked into war, but their plan is just survival. Korea had a reputation as the "Hermit Kingdom" for centuries, so it would sit well with the history if the North Korean government just sits there, heavily armed, and tries to wish the rest of the world away.

The US is still the world's most powerful country, but it no longer has the ability to dictate events unilaterally. The European Union has more coherence than it did and, within it, a now-united Germany is a very strong power. More significantly, there is a range of other growing powers - China, Russia, India & Brazil being the most significant, but also a number of medium-sized countries that aren't as poor as they used to be and are a fair bit tougher to push around. Against any one of them, or even a small number, the US will prevail. If the US gets them all off-side, however, it can't win. It's a tough lesson for the Masters of the Universe in Washington - and toughest of all for the neo-cons who dreamt so gloatingly of a New American Century. What worries me is the thought of what they might do if, in a state of denial, they maintain “business as usual” on the foreign policy front.

In terms of my perspective on events, I condemn both sides in this war. The Ossetians who, like all peoples, have the right of national self-determination, have aligned themselves with Russia for reasons which are unclear and will probably bring them no benefit. The Russian government is manipulating the Ossetians shamelessly and cynically and is being extremely violent. The Georgian government is engaged in its own national chauvinism in refusing the right of the Ossetians to secede and is being violent towards the Ossetians. And the US & European powers are playing power politics for the sake of oil & gas.

It has also been reported Russia has bombed a NATO base!?

Russian warplane has dropped two bombs on the Vaziani military base outside Tbilisi

Though not a NATO base this is the base where 1000 U.S. troops were based during Immediate Response 2008 last month.

Thankyou for that bit of info.
It sounded a bit alarming when I heard this from a fairly reliable source - hence the question mark.I was hoping some one would verify.

All the oil prices observers are astonished from the stagnation of oil prices , in spite of the strategic position of Georgia with respect to oil transfer from Caspian see to Mediterranean see. All of us remember that the oil prices are fragile and break up easily to unpredicted levels for any political standoff , sometimes, regardless of whether the standoff between the disputes are related to oil industry. The unchanged in the oil prices despite this conflict is key material to study and figure out that neither political disputes nor economic issues are the reason for oil prices escalation but, the hidden powers who don't wish at this moment to show their ugly faces , unless , directly affected by oil cut from this region or they are observing how deep this war will go!

Watch Armenia:

Georgian officials have previously stated that Georgia will not need to import Iranian gas if supplies from the Baku-based Shah-Deniz pipeline, which crosses into Turkey via Georgia, remain adequate. The Islamic Republic provided emergency supplies during Georgia’s January 2006 gas crisis. At the time, the United States reacted warily to the prospect of having its closest Caucasus ally, Georgia, forge any kind of enduring energy relationship with Iran.

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Armenia's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisyan said that by the end of 2009, the Russian gas giant Gazprom will invest more than 200m US dollars in the construction of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline.

After the completion of construction work, Armenia will have access to another alternative gas pipeline along with the current one from Russia and based on the prices that are offered, will decide which of them it should use. Currently, Armenia pays Russian Gazprom 110 US dollars per 1,000 cu.m. of gas, however, the price will change from 1 January 2009, Arminfo quoted Movsisyan as saying.

During his press conference, Armen Movsisyan also touched on the construction of an oil refinery outside Yerevan which will cost two or three billion US dollars.

Posted on July 27, 2008 by realarmenia

The dramatic events that occurred in Javahk on the eve of the official launch of the construction of the Kars-Akhalaklaki railroad testify to the fact that the Turkish-Azerbaijani peaceful economic initiatives are going to end in a bloody battle for us, the Armenians.
It is more than obvious that the conflicts which started in Akhalkalaki on June 17, prior to the beginning of the construction of the Kars Akhalkalaki railroad, are the result of the primitive provocations initiated by the Georgian intelligence services. They pursued a goal to demonstrate the Georgian government’s decisiveness in realizing the construction of the railroad on the territory of Javahk.


Circa 2004:

Saakashvili responded to his Adjarian lockout by ordering the Georgian navy to blockade Batumi. Unfortunately by strangling Abashidze’s money tree, the Georgian president also threatened Georgia’s economic health and that of the southern Caucasus. Batumi is Georgia’s largest seaport and is also crucial to landlocked Armenia to the south, whose borders with both Turkey and Azerbaijan have been closed since 1991.

"Suddenly two European nations, one a key ally of the United States and Nato aspirant, were in a state of war.

Crucially, it is the only practical route from this increasingly important producer region that avoids both Russia and Iran."

Analysis: energy pipeline that supplies West threatened by war Georgia conflict
Robin Pagnamenta, The Times

Opinion & analysis
Is Tskhinvali the centre of the world? h/t

I note that the BBC reports how surprised the US regime was by the hostilities' outbreak.
Are we supposed to believe that tiny Georgia,
latest and most utterly junior recipient of the Pentagon's largesse,
was somehow able to launch warfare against Russian troops without explicit instructions from Washington ?

I've quite a strong stomach, but I simply cannot swallow that. It stinks.

But if Tblisi was doing GW's bidding, then what is the US aim ?

Thus far only one theoretically credible motive has occurred to me,
that the possible strategic goal of "pushing China up a growth curve until it goes bust,"
which depends centrally on further escalating oil prices,
is endangered by the present oil-price drop reflecting looming recession fears.

Logically, getting Russian airpower to bust the pipeline that can move a million bbl/day westward
should both restore rising oil-prices' ruinous impact on China's post-Olympic hangover,
while also giving US voters a demonstrable and well-known foreign enemy to blame for crippling fuel costs.

If anyone can post an equally credible alternative motivation for US instigation of the hostilities
could they please do so ?



Are we supposed to believe that tiny Georgia, latest and most utterly junior recipient of the Pentagon's largesse, was somehow able to launch warfare against Russian troops without explicit instructions from Washington?

I wasn't aware Georgia had attacked Russia. I understand it did attack within its own borders against separatists. Unless you are equating peacekeepers = Russian army, I think you may need to be a bit more careful in how you characterize things.

NOTE: I have no dog in this fight, but am always interested in the truth being the basis of discussion.


Separatists? All 70,000 of the South Ossetians are separatists? They didn't choose to be a part of Georgia. Stalin made South Ossetia and Abkhazia part of Georgia. It was Soviet Union then, so it probably did not matter much. If Georgia could secede from Soviet Union, Ossetia could secede from Georgia. They should probably ask for a referendum, not destroy 98% of the city and kill, wound and drive out more than half of the population. It was considered war crime and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.

"...They should probably ask for a referendum,..."

Already been done, maybe they didn't like the result??

2006 South Ossetia overwhelmingly endorses its split with Georgia in a referendum.

Once there was a referendum in the US, too, which wasn't much respected, was it?

What happened to the good old days when you could just have a civil war and kill off a good fraction of your boys without the whole world getting involved?

What would happen if you had a referendum for Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey? Or the Shiite areas of Iraq and Iran, or the Tibet area of China?

It all sounds well and good for people to have self-determination at every arbitrary granularity, but really does the world work that way?

Well, apparently about 58% of Mexicans believe that most of the US southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico.

There exist both peaceful and radical Mexican-advocacy groups who have spoken of independence of or cession of territories lost from Mexico to the US in 1848.

Now, combine that with Mexican majorities in places like San Antonio, and facts like it being expected that within a generation there'll be a Mexican majority in California, then if the US were to hold plebescites on certain US counties (say, southern California) joining with Mexico or becoming independent, well...

As an Australian it wouldn't bother me. But presumably Americans would be a bit distressed?

I am not an advocate for any particular area of the world seceding from or joining with another, or becoming independent. I note that while areas are often keen to become independent, they very soon afterwards join with some other transnational group (eg Slovenia leaving Yugoslavia but joining the EU). So it seems like it's more complex than simply "we want to be free!"


the Russian troops killed in Georgia's assault on S Ossetia
were officially there, by formal diplomatic agreement, as peacekeepers.

They were serving members of the Russian army.

Hence I referred to them as Russian troops.

And that's the truth.

Now would you care to discuss America's motive in having them attacked ?

One of the print Media yesterday said that there were Israeli troops and advisers helping Georgia.

It would make sense for the US to do that and then remain most surprised.

The cold war was never actually won by Reagan. The USSR just ran out of money. Kind of like North Korea, there is no official cease fire.

Geopolitics is never straight forward. The US has not yet realized that similar to Russia of the 1990's, the US too has run out of money. It is the final final domino to fall in the old system.

US politicians are all of the cold-war generation who cant remember why they got up in the morning.

The more small economies the US can get into the NATO/EU/US sphere the more junk it can sell and the more credit it can borrow.

Russia is pissed off because the US is offering all the ex-Soviet colonies Mc Donalds and Starbucks and our wonderfully "Free" way of life, without telling them that to do it our way is a life sentence of hard labour.

Russia now has money again and an unfinished (now still cool war) and Russia's enemy is slowly sinking into the quicksand.

May not be long before Russia starts offering the EU/US colonies better Mc Gasky's and oil in their Starbucks.

I want to know who the real criminals are who are conspiring in this whole oil thing

GEORGIA INVADED,------- Stockmarket goes UP!!

2000 dead in a WAR, 50 miles from a major oil pipeline. The war involves one of the world,s major oil and gas suppliers AND THE PRICE OF OIL GOES DOWN.

Something is rotten not only in the State of Denmark but in the heart of our modern capitalism.


October - 2007: "We are interested in a strategic partnership with Israel at the same level as our strategic partnership with the United States," Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili of Georgia told Haaretz yesterday.... Bezhuashvili, who in the past served as his country's defense minister, would not elaborate on what he means by "strategic cooperation." However the phrase is understood as a code for arms and other security-related purchases, such as upgrading of planes, tanks, artillery, and border monitoring equipment

Today - Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel’s oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean.

Last year, the Georgian president commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also offer instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel.

You can bet that these "advisers" were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army’s preparations to blitz the South Ossetian capital Friday.

Russia can play the game israel plays too.

They destroyed Lebanon using two soldiers as an excuse.

Russia has more then enough reason to totally destroy Goergia's economic infrastructure and then agree to a cease fire.


Edit: Double post deleted.

All week we have been hearing $80.00 or $90.00 oil is coming back. I hate being an I told you so but we are at a stage where anything geopolitical will get the price going up again. Russian production already can't keep pace. This will be interesting, sadly a few thousand lives will be lost and Georgia will end up coming out of this smelling like roses. Or at least their politicians will.$$$$$$$$

good thing you hate being an I-told-you-so, cus oil doen't seem to be going up.

Russian production can't keep up with what? declining aggregate demand in Europe? increased Arab output?

oil's quite capable of going down for some while longer, and the further the price drips, drips, drips, the more saber-rattling and geopolitical belligerence we will be subjected too.

Doesn't Israel now rely on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline for oil?

I was just wondering whether there is a connection between Russia's move and the US armada heading for the Gulf and Iran? It would all make sense as a strategic play to head off the West's next move. Presumably with control of the pipeline Russia would be in a position to make its own blockade against aggressor countries trying to blockade or attack Iran. As well as securing its own borders and tighting its control over energy exports.

Doesn't Israel now rely on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline for oil?

Israel doesn't "rely" on any single source of energy. It probably buys the occasional cargo from Ceyhan, but it sources oil (and coal, and LNG, and probably uranium) as widely as possible, for obvious reasons.

does Israel get any oil through that pipeline? Anyway, Israel need not be brought into Burgundy's supposition, that Russia is moving to counter US moves against Iran, for it to be a quite reasonable one. It does look like, under the cover of the Olympics, that moves and counter moves in that other game will be made.

Israel has an embassy in Baku, in line with its doctrine of maintaining cordial relations with non-Arab Muslim countries (including Iran, until Khomeini came back). There's also a large Tat (Mountain Jew) community centered around Krasnaya Sloboda in northern Az. The Israeli Infrastructure Minister has made repeated visits to Baku, ostensibly to talk about gas supply (scroll down to bottom of page)...

A sealine from the Gulf of Iskenderun (SE corner of Turkey) to Israel skirting Syrian waters is technically feasible, but it's years away if it ever happens at all. As for lifting Azeri oil at Ceyhan, it's a no-brainer; Azeri Light is pretty similar to Brent, it's freely traded in the Mediterranean Basin by the ten or so companies that ship through BTC, and Ceyhan is less than one day's sailing time from Haifa.

I was wrong about LNG by the way, though there's talk of building a terminal.

NATO & the Neocons are the aggressors. You should go back in time and study the geopolitical moves against Russia by NATO, Europe and the Anglo-American Elite. Recently, it has been the bumbling madmen known as the Neocons who've ratcheted up the tensions against Russia. It's been the Western sponsored Oligarchs, Brzezinski's pressing of Georgia into NATO & Euro-American intel sponsoring of rebellions all across Eurasia & the many color revolutions, and the attempt of the U.S. to control the whole of Eurasia that has the Russians outraged, and right so.

Russia has every right be enraged. The same fascists that are killing our own countries and putting the jackboot on our necks are using proxy wars to encircle Russia and pull its former satellites into their influence. All this for wealth and power, of course, while screaming loudly about human rights and democracy; which is just plain bullshit.

The war is brought to you by the West, not Russia. Wake the hell up!

"Although Georgian forces now control Pankisi Gorge, officials believe that some Arabs remain there. U.S. Green Berets sent by Bush in 2001 to train Georgian troops are due to finish in April, but the U.S. government has hired a private firm (Israel, DynCorp or Blackwater?) to come in with mobile training teams and guide Tbilisi's counterterrorist operations."

chechnya, Pankisi, 911, US troops to Georgia:

A Quiet Battle in the Caucasus:
Georgia Between Russia & NATO
by Christopher Deliso
September 26, 2001

And as I mentioned yesterday, Brzezinski is Obama's advisor. So more war soon whether it be Obama or McCain in the White House.

I think that Europe had better start being real nice to Russia and real soon.

Since when has kissing up to Russia been a good long-term strategy for Europe? What Europe needs to do is figure out a better energy solution, so as to not be beholden to somebody like Putin. So does the US.

figure out a better energy solution

Right now there aint one so I guess it's cosy up to Russia time.
On Europes side is the fact that we have a good rail infrastructure and not so much a fear of nuclear.

Oil can be imported in tankers, but gas is more or less imported by pipeline. It seems to me winter heating will be the big problem if Russia plays the gas card.

Europe needs Russia and importantly, Russia needs Europe. And since when has kissing up to the US been a good long-term strategy for Europe? Is being beholden to someone like Bush preferable?

Europe is not going to go it alone any time soon and time is running out. Obviously Russia would make a better strategic partner for Europe.

Do the East Germans concur?

After the dose of reality they got after the walls came down, they probably would concur. When I was in East Germany in the 70's, they were probably treated better by the Russians than the Russians were. Having been arrested twice there, I think the main problem was the Germans themselves and their love of systemic efficiency.

I always remember the East German speed traps. They would camouflage their cars and equipment with military camouflage netting at the side of the road. Similar to the way the Germany army used to camouflage their tanks in WW2.

When I was in Poland I never even saw a Russian in the many years I was there. I think your confusing Russia with a failed economic system.

"Obviously Russia would make a better strategic partner for Europe."

that's the most insightful comment I've read here so far.

"Since when has kissing up to Russia been a good long-term strategy for Europe? "

Never been tried, really. Unless you count the Napoleonic wars...

Correct, this is just a Neothug wet dream that "impulse control" has not been able to squash. They have encouraged Georgia to get in Goose Step with their policies, and they have started marching.
We need to squash the fascists scum before they cause earth another trauma.

I'm pretty sure Georgia knows their part in the game too. They recall what Soviet domination was like, and it's interesting to see how many people think Europe should fawn before their new Russian energy master and that Georgia should continually back down as well. Would you say the same if Russia wanted to regain Alaska?

I keep seeing the neo-Nazi rants, but I just don't get the connection. The US wasn't Fascist during the cold-war, and it's not now either. It is alarmingly overstretched with regards to military, spending, borrowing, and energy usage however. If we are to undertake significant international gambits we need to tighten our belts domestically - foreign and domestic policies have to align to a reasonable degree it seems to me.

sort of agree with you here... you have to follow through on these gambits and its a cost...

BUT and its a real big BUT once you commit to this geopolitical game play version of reality things go down hill real fast once you fail to follow through..

you get the negative impact of being seen as a aggressor with out the spoils of victory.

the US strategic investment to BTC and georgia was considerable yet it appears the georgians are going to be hung out to dry.

why sign up to team america if even staunch allies get assf**ked. georgia was a rare example of a CIA coup backing the RIGHT side followed by a friendly gov which backed the USA's line on the world stage.. yet these credentials mean nothing..

loyalty repaid with ignorant dismissal....

and here is the thing .. going ahead with megalomanic plans of global domination without factoring in domestic political concerns amounts to reckless madness in my book..

what happened to US strategy?... not so much it didn't survive contact wih the enemy as much as it didn't survive contact with reality.

WTF were they thinking!


This may well be Bush's Bay of Pigs -- if you hang your one friend out to dry today you will not have many friends tomorrow.

If the damage to Georgian infrastructure (the port and pipeline) is as bad as it's sounding, we have failed to protect this piece, and it's an unmitigated loss.

I am increasingly worried that there IS NO COHERENT strategy at all. I keep hoping they're seeing one move further than I am, but I keep coming up empty. I could see Iraq as stepping stone to Iran, and access to some oil. I could see Afghanistan as a platform for influencing Pakistan, and making a vice for Iran. I can even see Georgia as insulation and oil/gas control against Russia, but only if we're acting as Europe's proxy. What I don't see is how this is a plan unless we have the wherewithal to defend it all.

The scorched-earth approach would be to damage a Russian pipeline or friendly port to deny their revenue as well, but that would spite the world oil market.

I think Iran may be the real victim in a day or two, and we'll all learn belatedly that Russia didn't care much about them afterall. Just like Georgia learned about us.

BBC news is reporting no pipelines damaged as yet. However the Russians bombed targets near by probably (according to one BBC analyst) just to make the point crystal clear what they could do if they wanted to.

Is the pipeline now in an area that will be under Russian control? I guess by definition if they can destroy it at will they do control it already.

I believe the main pipeline is about 35 miles from the Russian area at the closest point. But I guess it's slightly academic right at this moment as it's shut down anyway due to the Turkish explosion.

I am increasingly worried that there IS NO COHERENT strategy at all. I keep hoping they're seeing one move further than I am, but I keep coming up empty. I could see Iraq as stepping stone to Iran, and access to some oil. I could see Afghanistan as a platform for influencing Pakistan, and making a vice for Iran. I can even see Georgia as insulation and oil/gas control against Russia, but only if we're acting as Europe's proxy. What I don't see is how this is a plan unless we have the wherewithal to defend it all.

So basically, you are increasingly worried that these bastards are not competent enough to carry out such an aggressive plan to take control of the world's energy resources (at great cost in human lives and suffering). Apparently the idea of do so is just fine with you.

Didn't say that at all. What I'm saying is if there isn't a fairly aggressive plan then I doubt there is a plan at all. I'm not sure that's any better, though I suppose incompetent might be less disturbing to some than aggressive.

We're obviously not in Afghanistan or Iraq to quickly "win a war", so either these are just support moves in a larger game or they're short-sighted, poorly-executed skirmishes. Neither is a particular settling option.

The people that run all countries do not give a flying fig about you or me or anyone else not part of their tribe of elites. Even if they are competent and achieve "success", if that is to your benefit it is just a happy accident. It may be better for them to be fools.

so either these are just support moves in a larger game or...

I've long felt that most of our foreign (or even domestic) policy moves have been considered first and formost for their immediate impact in the permanent campaign. I.e. their primary purpase is as a means to obtaining the permanent Republican mojority at home. The secondary objective, seems to be lucrative contracts for the military industrial security complex. But this secondary objective is also part of the first, as the corporate MISC is highly supportive of the primary goal (Republican domination).

Of course Rovian politicals and real world considerations are often at odds. As we've seen when there is a conflict between them, reality is distorted to fit the politics, and plans go astray. You can only play this game so long before the disconnect between your politically distorted worldview, and reality bites you back bigtime.

what we got going now is aggressive+incompetence+no plan.. in large part the US admin (and its neocon heart of madness) kicked this off by deliberately smashing the status quo and throwing all the pieces in the air..

"the plan" was some absurdly trivialized notion the pieces were going to land butter side up.

and thing is no one has a clue what to do about it.. because doing nothing doesn't seem an option... getting a deal doesn't seem an option either because WhyTF should anyone trust the USA?

the ramifications of letting georgia go down the plug... the diplomatic blowback is past the Armageddon stage.. the players out there are going to be queuing up to get onboard the US boat of dreams...I think not.

and check this out for how much the world is realigning...

it makes more sense that Baku is tied into the Russia/european pipe network rather than being syphoned off into tankers setting sail for the new world....

anything that keeps the energy on the eurasian landmass works for "old europe" in the long run.


if anything it's a dangerous umbrella organization that can no longer represent the divergent interests of its members. the faux comfort it affords is probably a recipe for miscalculation by its membership.

So basically, you are increasingly worried that these bastards are not competent enough to carry out such an aggressive plan to take control of the world's energy resources (at great cost in human lives and suffering). Apparently the idea of do so is just fine with you.

when your ancestors and mine adopted agriculture, they conceded the moral high ground.

us first world people depend on aggressive bastards to maintain the disparity in living standards that we enjoy.

if our leaders were truly nice guys, everyone on earth would enjoy an equal share of natural resources, which would make us all as wealthy as african dirt farmers.

even so, global warming and environmental destruction would not decrease - because total consumption would remain the same.

if our leaders were truly nice guys, everyone on earth would enjoy an equal share of natural resources, which would make us all as wealthy as african dirt farmers.

We in the West elect our leaders, so if they are not nice guys, that's our fault.

An equal share of world resources would be a per capita GDP of about $10,000, about the level of Croatia. This is about fifty times the per capita income of an "African dirt farmer".

In a way I think thats right... what is really freaking me out is there is no plan at all.. plan A is all or nothing.. there is no plan B

if somebody could get all our eggs in one basket it would have a degree of merit even if morally bankrupt..

what we got going now is the dubious ethics+incompetence. though the two may go hand in hand in so far as trying to steal the oil is a non starter ...

it was never going to work.. you taking on everyone.

"I keep seeing the neo-Nazi rants, but I just don't get the connection."

Rather than resorting to your kind of name-calling, I will try and restrain myself. I realise that you are clueless, so I will choose another term: Corporatism. Go look it up. Neo-Nazis want a racially pure nation-state based on national socialism. They generally idealise Hitler. Those who call the Neocons fascists generally want a return to sanity and the constitution of the united states. We generally idealise people like Thomas Jefferson, for example.

But you also demonstrate, to me, that you are just a student of the corporatist media--a consumer of the official story. I lived through the cold war too.

Now you're being patronizing as well as mildly insulting.

A return to Federalism would suit me just fine, and my flippancy was a reaction to the broad brushstrokes used by many to combine everyone to the right of whatever they themselves believe into a convenient catch-all of jack-booted thugs.

I don't see how corporatism can succeed without a higher regulatory body, simply due to a corporation's overt self-interest. Democracy is still best, I think, but even with an educated and involved populace it seems subject to wide oscillations, popularity contests, and proliferation of unfunded mandates and pork. When it comes to national gov't the smaller, the better, in my view.

The US wasn't Fascist during the cold-war, it's not now either.

Riiiiight. We seem to be experiencing very different Americas. In mine, the income gap is as wide as its ever been and the worst of any OECD nation - and some non-OECD nations. In mine, corporations buy political favors without any consequence. In mine, no-bid contracts are given the friends of the Executive and their excesses are neither discussed nor investigated. In mine, the companies whose assets were nationalized by Sadam Hussein - just by lucky chance - end up being the same four to get control of Iraqi oil production... again. In mine, the IMF and world bank drive poor nations into unsustainable, debtor relations with those self same international organizations. In mine, elections are bought and paid for and condoned by the Supreme Court. In mine, the financial industry gorges on gov't awarded free money till it explodes from the gluttony, then the profits are kept and the debts passed back to the people. In mine, the gov't can tell me whether I may travel or not without reason or justification. In mine, the government can buy off the corporations to get them to break the law and spy on us all, then get their lackeys in Congress to decriminalize the process. In mine, the government can award contracts for internment camps within US borders, nationalize the national guard for federal duty and use the US military vs. Americans on US soil.

But, hey, you're right, there's no fascism here.


Some of those excesses are outside of the US, so other than agreeing that the IMF is a tool for globalism Friedman-style I can't say much on those.

The pork, favors, and free money is a symptom of a bloated, overly-powerful central gov't populated by corrupt elitists. I can't see much difference in behavior of any oligarchy regardless of alignment, and certainly most of the graft comes from public funds. I'm not disputing the quasi-legal abuses, only the relative unimportance of the parties or politics behind them.

I thought fascism implied a single autocratic leader with forcible oppression and suppression of dissent and economic favoritism. It seems to me we have an elitist gov't with an oligarchy of elected leaders, but with media manipulation and economic coercion of the people, and vocal but meaningless dissent.

We've had this for a long time though, it's just getting more obviously expensive and unconstrained of late. Really the national gov't has been gaining strength since the 1800's, with big upticks in power during the Civil War and the Depression, and in size from maybe the 30's onward.

The US has a long history of promoting/imposing foreign `regime changes' in countries that do not support the US. Try reading "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq" by Stephen Kinzer.

It might also help if US ambassadors were not chosen because of generous donations to the ruling party. Ambassadorships to many of the more desirable locales are often offered to those who contributed generous amounts of money to the president and his party during the campaign:-(

I think your assessment is simplistic, in that eternal desire for a white hat and black hat for every situation. Viewing world actions through the same hyperbole used for domestic politics neglects the many decades (centuries, even) of geopolitics and other countries' aspirations. Russia doesn't change its view of the US with every election cycle, other than to reassess which moves it can better make under each particular administration.

Certainly there is jockeying for position on the world stage, and that involves influence, which has long been economic, militaristic, and now energy related as well. It was US influence that limited the expansion of worldwide communism after an overly deep pullback after WWII. As the Soviet Union crumbled a new vacuum was created, which was of course filled by the US. Now China is stretching its wings (but in Africa, not the Central states of Eurasia) and Russia is again as well.

Certainly the US influence will be pushed back, but it won't be without some blood and give-and-take. As Russia and China grow, they too will face logistics issues and their own Iraqs and Afghanistans again, and somewhere new de-facto lines will be drawn. Choosing to not play the game simply concedes it to the opponents.

The difference this time around is energy. Russia sees control of energy as a key goal, and that means maintaining/increasing influence down through the Gulf. China needs far more resources, and I'm sure they have a plan too, but haven't really started acting yet. I expect they'll put far more power into Africa in the months and years to come, and then when it's opportune they'll reclaim Taiwan. That's when we'll find out if US is still the sole superpower or not.

I've long said it's a bad era in which to be poor. I think it also a bad era to be a small nation that happens to have geographical influence over energy.

Russia is a resource rich country with a small (in relative to size) well educated population, and the largest intact forest on earth (Taiga), and massive hydroelectric and gas reserves and potential.
Along with Canada, they got the favorable roll of the dice on the population-resource front. Europe needs Russia, as it has from the time of the Hanseatic League (disclaimer: I have a degree in Russian History).
We have had simpletons and untraveled ideologues in control of US foreign policy, essentially politically and historically illiterate. Sometimes the actions of these thugs and crime families are naked to the eye.

It's pretty bad that these simpletons and politically illiterate people all have educations from the public and/or private US schools and degrees from major US universities. I would certainly hope that the military academies teach world history rigorously. And that our leaders would tap the expertise in such areas before making policy decisions.

I am no fan of our domestic or international policies, or of the flavor of our educational system, but I do think half of the people are of above-median intelligence, and at least some of those must be involved in decision-making. The question to me isn't whether they make near-optimal decisions to meet the goals, but what exactly the goals might be.

I don't necessarily think it's a problem of the US educational system per se.

However, in recent years I have noticed there seem to be more and more people trapped in rigid ideologies. It has become so bad that once I am aware of someone's ideology I can predict the bulk of their arguments and the points they will use to support them.

This lack of intellectual flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing realities is deeply problematic going forward.

Yes I've seen the neocon quote about how they will "create their own realities".

That illusion is easily maintained in periods when the world is aflood with cheap energy.

I would argue that the flood of cheap energy is coming to an end.

Unfortunately the neocons appear eager to keep creating realities until they simply can't.

Man is not a rational creature, but a rationalizing one. Each of us can more readily see flaws in another's behavior, character, or arguments than in his own. Each who finds concern in how rigidly other perspectives are held should also look at his own, as he may be trapped in an false ideology himself.

I think the neocons and the liberals both have created their own realities that were seemingly stable when supported by cheap energy, but that both will turn out to be illusory. Two mutually-conflicting perspectives cannot both be right, but certainly can both be wrong.

Man is not a rational creature, but a rationalizing one.

This is where our education falls down severely. Yes, that is the basic nature of our brains. We need to teach people about how this works. And how it can lead to poor decision making, and often a refusal to recognize the signs when one is following a blind path (or an ideology). Only then does the human animal have a chance of getting rational control over his emotional by design brain.

The really nasty tendency with a two party system, like we have in the US is that we have two dominant parties/ideologies. Each with their own basket of beliefs. So we end up with two poles of belief. Any free thinkers, are highly unlikely to fully subscribe to either basket of beliefs, and so they tend to be excluded from the political decision making machinery. Then we have the human tendency to look for people with an integrity of beliefs, but only evaluate it positively if it carefully matches up with one of the two poles on the partisan divide.

I think that my history education at the US Air Force Academy was excellent (I was a History major), but the basic required courses in history at the service academies are minimal--one year of world history (which, admittedly, was a very good course, but I don't think you can learn enough in one year, especially as it's your first year when you have far too many other things to worry about to really immerse yourself in the topic--most people are just trying to keep their heads above water), and some military history in a few more require military arts & sciences classes. My understanding is that it is very similar at West Point and Annapolis. So, for the vast majority of US military academy graduates who aren't history majors (most focus on some engineering or science related discipline, and all get a B.S., not a B.A.), that's all the history instruction they get.

question to me isn't whether they make near-optimal decisions to meet the goals, but what exactly the goals might be


what are the goals?

Jerome a Paris has a story about this over at the European Tribune. This is an excerpt:

First, let's be clear: there are two reasons only we care about Georgia: the oil pipelines that go through its territory, and the opportunity it provides to run aggressive policies towards Russia.

Second, let's also be very explicit: this conflict is not unexpected: it is a direct consequence of our policies, in particular with respect to Kosovo (and to all those that will claim that "no one could have predicted" this, let me point out to this comment, or this earlier one, or this article). I would even go so far as to say that it was egged on by some in Washington: the neocons.

Third, our claims to have the moral high ground are totally ridiculous and need to be fought, hard. This is not about democracy vs dictature, brave freedom lovers vs evil oppressors, but a nasty brawl by power-hungry figures on both sides, with large slices of corruption. The fact that this is turned into a cold-war-like conflict between good and evil is a domestic political play by some in Washington to reinforce their power and push certain policies that have little to do with Russia or Georgia. That needs to be understood.

This seems to be a continuation of the drama called "WWI", just some of the actors have changed. I guess the basic conflict has never been resolved, and maybe it can't be resolved by anything short of annihilation of an even greater part of the population of Eurasia than occurred in the 20th century.

That's a pretty grim thought-- is there anything everyone can agree on? Can agreements be extended far enough to avoid desolation of all? Grand schemes like League of Nations and UN and NATO have decayed into corruption and petty nationalism. "Globalization" was an inchoate dream of Thomas Friedman, which seems to transcend national boundaries, but serves only to enrich a particular group of international bankers at public expense.

I am getting old, and my vision dims -- does anyone see light at the end of this tunnel?

There will always be rich and poor, and there will always be wars. Human nature pretty much guarantees that, I'd say.

So, no, there is no light of universal peace at the end of the tunnel of humanity. But it's the only train on the only tunnel we have, so you might as well enjoy the ride as best you can.

The appeal to "human nature" is pretty much a conversation stopper. Either we get beyond that (and for the sake of argument, I don't believe we have established what that "nature" is) or we all perish -- if not by fire, then by ice.

The paleocon brain has apparently been around, more or less unchanged, since before the Permian, 300,000,000 years ago or so. The neo-cortex, in a version that can support language and abstract reasoning has perhaps been on site for 100,000 years. I believe that further evolution is possible -- but at this point, the direction of selection has to be guided by reason rather than simple annihilation of the opposition.

Admittedly an appeal to authority is a poor debating technique, but supposing that somehow this generation is the one that will figure out the key to world peace in the midst of over-population and epic resource shortages is even less reasonable. Humans seem to have a unique ability to believe that all those who came before were ignorant simpletons yet those who come after will look back with awe at the current generation's enlightenment and accomplishments.

The term evolution is perhaps too broadly used, given that to my knowledge there is no identified mechanism for positive feedback from patterns of thinking into DNA except through procreation (or lack thereof). For less militaristic traits to grow, the thinking people have to figure out how to get the rest to voluntarily not propagate while proliferating like-minded thinkers. Certainly you could force them, but then you'd be a thinking/militaristic person, and you wouldn't want that. You could try to convince them through logic, but then you'd have militaristic/thinking people not procreating, but the truly militaristic would just hit you over the head and have their way with your woman. So, your only recourse is to somehow indoctrinate everybody into passive behaviors early in life so you can then control their reproductive tendencies later through subterfuge and nuance. Hmmm.....outcome based education, without conflict and competition, promoting cooperation and globally enlightened viewpoints....where have I heard that before? How's it working so far? Is that why right-to-life is such an anathema - Planned Parenthood wouldn't be able to take care of some who fall through the cracks?

The world is competition based, and it will be getting more-so. If your new-found ability to reason can be used to support victory through that competition it'll stick around, otherwise the 300,000,000 aggressive trend seems destined to win out once again.

Hello Paleocon,

Yep, it is too bad our primitive brains are so dominant in making us act in ways so out of tune with the ecosphere. Overshoot is the result.

I often wonder if Malthus' text could have ever become 'The Global Bible' if leadership had long ago asserted that everyone needs to study its simple principles, then limit their birthrate to replacement or less. 200 years of this effort: this World and the global culture could have been a very different place--but that is merely wishful thinking now.

As the parents, wives, and siblings all cry as their young men march off to be butchered on the pointless battlefield: I wonder if that is the upper brain's expression of frustration and torment towards its primitive base.

Even I, with no offspring, no will-full investment in the genetic future, feel anguished and appalled that we persist in acting stupid. Such is life.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

My mother used to say "'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved."

Rush lyrics say "Sadder still to watch it die than never to have known it. For you, the blind who once could see, the bell tolls for thee."

I think both are true. It IS sad to see great accomplishments fade, peace torn by strife, prosperity replaced by austerity, and mindless optimism skewered by vigilance and worry. It would be worse though, to avoid living and loving now to avoid pain and loss later.

But it is a bittersweet sadness for those who can already envision the crash and yet enjoy the remaining moments of glory. Each of us must wrestle with the choices that remain to us, and resolve the conundrums that arise. It is an exquisite anguish, a severe mercy, to have the ability to see the future but live the present.

I don't think thats true... the reason being is warfare is on some sort of progression of obsolescence curve.

the spoils of war are diminishing as its ability to create controllable goals.

cost/benefit ratio is diminishing.

in the end war will be useless at achieving your goals... its not a liner smooth path of human social evolution set in stone but the evidence points towards the gradual neutering of military power

I believe this conflict is Putin's Russia slapping the face of USA-friendly Georgia. Russia has been warning the USA about locating missle batteries in Poland and other places closeby for awhile now. Russia does not like the USA trying to win friends and build influence in the former soviet countries.

Russia decided to throw out a warning about the USA efforts. This conflict also directly sends a message that Russia will not let the West have control over the Caspian oil pipeline.

The conflict is a "dare" to the West. It is a strategic move in the chess game. Putin has thrown out a pawn that could be sacrificed or left out in the open, but protected.

It is unfortunate that yet another small country has been sacrificed in this game between these two larger, more-powerful countries.

[edited some text]

What...a -1 with no discussion? Who here disagrees with this assessment and why?

Or is just an obvious observation to all?

Disagree with the idea that this is a dare to the West.

From the reading I've done I would argue that the current situation is more of a dare to the East specifically targeting Russia.

I believe this conflict is Putin's Russia slapping the face of USA-friendly Georgia. Russia has been warning the USA about locating missle batteries in Poland and other places closeby for awhile now. Russia does not like the USA trying to win friends and build influence in the former soviet countries.

From the news stories I looked at. It appears Georgia is the agressor in this conflict. Georgia's President order Georgia troops to shell the seperatists in a attempt to drive them out of the country. They starting kill thousands of civilians at which point Russia sent in troops to stop Georgia's Military from killing civilians.

Yes, but the Russian response has been a bit over the top, don't you think?

Third, our claims to have the moral high ground are totally ridiculous and need to be fought, hard.


Our president had a news conference and said :
"Georgia is an independent country and its sovereignty must be respected..."

Well -- he forgot about Iraq and many countries the US did in. We always entered another sovereign country if our interest is threatened. Russia did the same in this case. Doesn't make it right. But we are in no position to tell them what to do.

A probable situation had turned into reality. We (the US and NATO) had tried to expanse our power base into some big guy's backyard -- playing loud music and party all night. Georgia leaders are stupid to be lead into this mess. They should be a lot smarter by playing both sides.

Don't forget to include Germany and Japan in the list of countries we "did in". Georgia plays their hand as best they can, just like Russia and the US, but they don't have much to bet with. I think they knew Russia would eventually act, but were surprised at the level of force and timing.

There was a post a few days ago that pointed out that corporations have most of the characteristics of a sociopath -- driven by unfeeling self-interest. I think nations are not much different, but the stake are higher in that lives are more often on the line.

It sounds nice to say "everybody stay in your own borders and play nice", but when economic and political influence doesn't get the desired outcome, nations will resort to violence.

Jerome makes a good point about the moral high ground--this isn't an issue of principle but rather an issue of realpolitik. It's also been building for quite some time. Stratfor has been screaming about the impending war in Georgia for years (they must be quite pleased to sound less like they've been crying wolf right now). I wrote about Georgia in the context of enveloping Central Asia's resources by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization back in 2006. The US has long maintained a sizable signals intelligence ground station in Georgia, and has been advising Georgia on fighting Islamist rebels in the Pankisi Gorge region. This is something to watch for--one angle the US may use to argue the moral high ground approach is that they need to ensure the "territorial integrity" of Georgia in order to deny a training ground to Islamist "terrorists" in the Pankisi Gorge (sound familiar?).

It's also important to ground what's happening in Georgia in the larger context of the decline of the Nation-State system. I wrote and presented a paper about this at the 2006 Yale Journal of International Law conference which some people may find worth reading, and highly recommend Philip Bobbitt's "Shield of Achilles" for an in-depth look at the topic. The basic issue is not that the "state" is going away, but that the constitutional basis of a "state" in providing for the welfare of a contiguous "nation" is increasingly invalid, leading to the rise of the "market-state" (where the constitutional basis for the state comes from its ability to provide market opportunity to those within its borders) and a growing conflict with disenfranchised and marginalized nations (and other non-state groups) that exist wholly or partially within the borders of the new market-state.

This "market-state"/"nation" conflict is the new lever of choice in the new "great game." Where it serves Russia's interest, they will support a non-state "national" group against the integrity of a "market-state" (Georgia). Where it is against their interest, they will support the "market state" (here, Russia) against separatist "national" groups (e.g. Chechnya, Dagestan, and a dozen other internal problems--Siberia, for example, has some serious separatist problems). Similarly, the US will support the "market-state" where it must (as in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, etc.) and will support non-state "national" groups where it serves its interest (Kosovo, the Ahwaz rebels in the Iranian province of Khuzestan where most of Iran's oil is, the Baluch rebels in the East of Iran, but not the same rebels in the SW of Pakistan, etc.). Where this "market-state"/"national" conflict overlaps with key resource production or exportation infrastructure, look for increasing problems, in part because the conflict between nations and state will intensify, and in part because growing resource scarcity will make resource infrastructure an increasingly popular and effective target within the context of these struggles...

A real disappointment from Jerome a Paris, one which makes me question his judgement and even his motivation(Energy banker--is it possible that his money comes from the infamous Russian plutocrats?).

Notice Putin's Kosovo-payback rhetoric, which Jerome seems to justify.

In a meeting with refugees, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin characterized Georgia's actions as "complete genocide," according to his office's Web site. Putin also said Georgia had effectively lost the right to rule the breakaway province — an indication Moscow could be preparing to fulfill South Ossetians' wish to be absorbed into Russia.

Putin and Mini-me are neo-Czarist throwbacks.

Remember the threat from 'provocative Estonia'?
Remember Litvinenko poisoned with a radioactive isotope?
Remember the president of TNK-BP hiding out in Europe?

Russia just plain 'creeps' the whole world out.

Jimmy Carter got it right--stand up for human rights and forget the 'realpolitik'.


you are completely uninformed or a crude propogandist. Now for does of reality:

Sorry to shatter the little bubble you have made for yourself, its a dangerous world out there.


"Small country decides to start war against vastly much larger country" - clearly the ruler must be totally barking. And likewise the population that obeys such a ruler.

I doubt the notion that this threatens to escalate. Georgia is clearly hoping that Europe/Nato will come to its aid. It won't -because the RF holds the geopositional advantage. So Georgia will soon give up, or just secessionism will merely rumble on while Russia controls the pipeline levers. The really harmful wars are where two sides' leaders both imagine themselves to be sufficiently powerful, as for example Hitler v Stalin.

Barking, or has the covert support of another, much larger country

Or it didn't start the war. Russia gets everything it wants from this; Georgia gets nothing.

There is also the possibility that Georgia went adventuring betting that the US and NATO would provide substantial support.

If that is the case, this situation is not looking like a smart bet on Georgia's part.

In that case we would be back to my original point that the leader must be barking. Especially in his stupendously choosing the least best time to launch his adventure. A more likely notion is that he was driven to act in desperation by well-timed provocations.

This is getting serious:
note though tendacy for telegraph to over do the drama a bit, but still very serious

I would be worrying more than the price of oil by now.


Excerpt from Georgia: Russia 'invades new province' as South Ossetia conflict escalates, (linked to above).

Russian forces have invaded the Georgian province of Abkhazia hours after taking control of most of South Ossetia, said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The Georgian parliament rapidly formalised the move to a war footing.

President George W Bush said the attacks outside South Ossetia marked a "dangerous escalation" in the conflict.

Mr Saaskashvili said Moscow had been planning the assault for months, accused Russia of actions similar to Stalin's invasion of Finland in 1939 and said "the entire post-Cold War order of Euorpe and the world is at stake".

I think this line sums it all up nicely.

Moscow has announced it would send reinforcements into South Ossetia and President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged to "force the Georgian side to peace".

Indeed. This looks like

"Kuwait? Nah. We don't give a rat's ass."


"Huh? I never said that!"

all over again.


The BTC pipeline was already damaged last week, as discussed here.

On an oil pipeline, the most place most vulnerable to attack is the pipe itself, which can be ruptured with relative ease, and of course it's impossible to protect 1,700km of pipeline. However, while easy to rupture it's also easy to repair - you'd get a loss of pressure for half an hour until they found where the rupture was, then it'd be down for a few hours until they repaired it. Little effort, but little gain for the saboteur.

But pipelines have pumping stations, these are large, relatively easier to defend, but if struck the line will be down for days at least, depending on the level of damage.

The Refahiye BTC section had an explosion at its pumping station last week, the Turks have blamed the PKK. As the article notes, the line has a capacity of 1.5 million bbl/day, but in fact was carrying only 800,000 bbl/day.

Strategically, the significance of the BTC pipeline goes beyond the Baku (Azerbaijan) oil. Absent the BTC line, Azeri oil must go through Iran - and the US has sanctions against Irani oil - or else through Russia - and the EU is already concerned about Russia having too much power in controlling the flow of natural gas to much of Europe through lines through the Ukraine.

The BTC line also potentially connects the other Central Asian republics - Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Kygryzstan - and their oil exports to the West. Absent the BTC line and others, the West must compromise with or be beholden to either Iran or Russia.

Russia has accomplished a strategic coup de main. The aim of most warfare is to present your enemy with a dilemma. For example, achieve air superiority against his land forces, and his forces can either sit still and be encircled, or move and be destroyed - a dilemma. Russia has presented the West with a dilemma - do nothing to help Georgia and lose BTC, or go to war against Russia and in the course of the conflict lose BTC.


Edit: And staying up late, I've expanded on my thoughts here.

The Refahiye BTC section had an explosion at its pumping station last week

The leak and fire was at a block valve...

You're correct that a simple pipeline breach is easy to repair, though I'd say days not hours (localize fault, depressurize, excavate, plug, dress the damaged area, clamp, weld, X-ray, test, reinstate). The machines, materials and manpower for this are on permanent standby at several points along the line.

If the valve is damaged beyond repair it might be more serious - I doubt whether they'd carry many spares, and it would require a lot more engineering to fix.

Pump and pigging stations (half a dozen along a pipeline the size of BTC) would be double fenced and access-controlled, permanently manned and probably with a squad-size permanent armed presence (military or police). Valves would be unmanned but fenced, probably with intrusion detection and rapid response from the nearest police post. The rest of the line is patrolled daily on horseback...

...probably with airborne patrols, movement sensors in the pipeline corridor, earth disturbance sensors, hydrocarbon detectors and lots of stuff that isn't publicized. The pipeline is buried to a depth of 1 meter, so it would take a little time to dig down through well-compacted soil to get to the pipe.

A lesson learned from similar incidents in Iraq: rapid repair works well against pipeline attacks, but the repair teams are very vulnerable. One sniper taking a few pot shots at the repair team extends the repair period significantly. In Iraq, the pipeline war was fought in the following phases: 1) attack the pipeline, which takes many days to repair, 2) attack the pipeline, but now well prepared rapid response repairs the pipeline in very few days, 3) attack the pipeline then attack the rapid repair team, resulting in weeks of shutdown, 4) attack the pipeline, but now rapid repair team is well guarded and a perimeter is rapidly established around the repair site. Perfect security doesn't exist, but it is very possible to dramatically improve security--however, you'll notice that the cost of providing these escalating levels of security is very high. Companies could put all this security in place now, but it would cost huge sums and require thousands of people for a pipeline the length of the BTC. So, instead, what seems to be standard response is to wait until phase 1 (as laid out above) becomes a significant problem, then gradually get around to implementing the security in phase 2, then as phase 3 becomes a significant problem, gradually implement the security in phase 4. Probable result: significant increase in cost as well as routine disruptions lasting for several years before the situation stabilizes at a moderately reliable, but very expensive pipeline security situation. This is where Iraq is now--not a guarantee that Turkey will follow the same path, but it's an interesting comparison.

Hi Jeff,

I agree that extensive strategic infrastructure in remote areas is a favorite target for terrorist attacks. However, the Muj and their ilk tend to flourish in failed states, which Iraq clearly is and none of the BTC transit countries are - yet. And just burying the pipeline makes a big difference to its vulnerability - the Cano Limon (no accents on this keyboard, alas) pipeline in Colombia is unburied and was blown up once or twice a week on average between 1996 and 2001 (attacks have gone down since Uribe was elected)...

...whereas the OCENSA pipeline is buried and has never been shut down by terrorists AFAIK - certainly much less than once a year in recent years. The only attack I can find from a cursory search in Google was in 1998...

Before everyone here goes all Tom Clancy Weapons Porn crazy, I'd also like to emphasise that the official position is still that the BTC block valve fire was an industrial accident.

Burying a pipeline sounds like a viable security measure--I wonder how the cost of this compares (especially where, as with BTC, the pipeline crosses fairly mountainous terrain)? I think that one of the key take-aways is that there are very viable security measures that can be taken, but that they cost money--when it comes to major infrastructure projects, project engineers don't seem to be planning for these things, financiers don't seem to be willing to pay for them until the need has been demonstrated by an attack (at which point it's too late to integrate the security measures at the most cost effective time at the initial design phases), etc.

I think that you're spot on in saying that the Russians have taken advantage of the situation by presenting the West with a dilemma. But the endgame that (I take it) you're suggesting amounts to all out war where Iran confronts the US in the Gulf and Russia invades Georgia proper (by which I mean passes the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.)

I agree that the West has been very provocative with Russia. It is unclear to me why, exactly, NATO continued to be expanded so far into the former Soviet Union after the end of the Cold War, outside of a kind of inertia. The "missile shield" in the Czech Republic is a good example of a scenario where the Russians could only interpret it as a indication that the view in the West was that they are still the enemy.

But, I do not think that Russia will go to bat for Iran. As I understand it, their support for Iran has been steadily eroding, as has China's. Beyond that, I hardly think that the US is going to invade Iran or, for that matter, impose a blockade on Iran. (The war drums have been beating long and hard on Iran here in the US for a long time, and there is even a "Sense of Congress" which apparently has more than enough votes to pass which calls for a blockade of Iran but deliberately withholds the means to enforce such a blockade ... DC is a strange place. But I still do not think it is going to happen ... and I sure hope I'm right about that, because it would be a disaster were Iran to decide to fight.)

Russia could embargo the West ... with Iran that would be a terrible blow to the world's economy ... even Venezuela might join in in solidarity (having recently invited the Russians to put bases there and having joint energy programs in Central America) ... that would be their strongest card.

But it would destroy their own economies as well and invite the most serious possible response. Any sustained attack on shipping in the Persian Gulf would likely result in an overwhelming response, with the full backing of the entire GCC. China and India would also be more than a little upset at a situation where there is a real supply shortage. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan too would find that their interests were seriously compromised. Iran/Russia/Venezuela would have a lot of angry and motivated actors on the other side.

I do not think that Russia can win a full out war with the West. All reports about their military are basically that it is a horrible mess. The conflict in Chechnya was awfully protracted for a relatively small province versus the hypothetically rather ruthless major power. Russia's trump card is basically the bomb ... that is what will stop any full-scale war.

Nor do I think that Russia could win a limited war if NATO truly moved to confront them in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I do not know if Georgia was egged on by the Administration, but I do know that their military and defense strategies were designed by ex-intelligence folks in Washington and that some of those elements may well have advised that now is the time, because the next Administration is more likely to fix a gimlet eye on such adventurism.

That said, I do not think that NATO at this stage is willing to go to bat too strongly for Georgia. They may have to accept the loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I do believe that substantial majorities in both regions do not want to be a part of Georgia and do know that the subject of Abkhazia was an integral part of a conference on the political economics of secession in Barcelona in 2000 or so.

We will see, and maybe you are not really suggesting that the consequences of this are an expanded war bringing in Iran and pitting Russia against the combined forces of the rest of the industrial world, in which case mea culpa. But I simply do not think that any of the players, so to speak, right now are willing to risk that much on this particular conflict, but that Russia probably has made a tactical decision which will make the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia fuzzy for basically forever. Sounds awfully Pollyanna-ish don't it? ... I sure hope I'm not wrong.

I think that you're spot on in saying that the Russians have taken advantage of the situation by presenting the West with a dilemma. But the endgame that (I take it) you're suggesting amounts to all out war

No, I said "checkmate" - that is the endgame. When you win a chess match, you do so by putting the king piece of your opponent in checkmate. That means that the king is threatened, and wherever else he moves he's still threatened. That is, he has a dilemma.

Of course in world strategic affairs there is no true "endgame", it always goes on. So we can consider it as a series of matches, or just shrug and say, well, it's just an analogy.

The chess analogy is important because in chess your strength in play is not simply the pieces you can take, but those you can threaten. One piece can tie down several others. This was part of the aim of the US in Iraq, as a country and with the Gulf the US can thus directly control or indirectly threaten about half the world's oil reserves, and is not far off another one-sixth in Central Asia. It's the queen piece in the middle of the chessboard.

Any sustained attack on shipping in the Persian Gulf would likely result in an overwhelming response, with the full backing of the entire GCC. China and India would also be more than a little upset at a situation where there is a real supply shortage.

Iran is not going to start a conflict with the West, it has nothing to gain. Its ability to threaten Gulf shipping is retaliatory. "Yes, you can bomb us to ruins - but not before we really hurt the flow of oil through the Gulf."

Given that, would China and India be upset with Iran for closing Hormuz, or with the West for attacking Iran and causing Iran's response?

I do not think that Russia can win a full out war with the West. All reports about their military are basically that it is a horrible mess. The conflict in Chechnya was awfully protracted for a relatively small province versus the hypothetically rather ruthless major power.

Chechnya was ten years ago, and that under a drunken President Yeltsin. The Putin-Medvedev diumvirate is a very different matter. There have been considerable improvements in that time, with the airforce flying nuclear patrols once more, the navy cleaning up ships and setting out to sea, and so on.

But that does not really matter. To win a war you do not have to have the biggest and best military in the world, you only have to be able to handle whatever your enemies can send against you.

NATO quite simply is not going to all send troops to cross the Ukraine into Russia, or land a multinational marine division at St Petersburg. It's just not going to happen. If NATO troops are sent, they'll go to where the fighting is, in Georgia.

To reach Georgia they can take the sea route through the Bosphorous into the Black Sea. The Turks may or may not let them through depending on the situation. If they let them through, then they must cross the Black Sea subject to Russian air and naval attacks. To defend against that they'd need to have aircraft in Black Sea states, who may or may not want to join a larger conflict.

Or NATO could take the land route, from the Mediterranean across Turkey, rather mountainous, or from the Persian Gulf across Iraq, then Azerbaijan and into Georgia. Not a quick and easy stroll; they could only get a limited number of troops there, and it'd be difficult to supply them.

Russia would be looking at a limited war in a limited area; what China was to Korea in the Korean War, Russia could be to Georgia if this conflict were to widen.

That said, I do not think that NATO at this stage is willing to go to bat too strongly for Georgia. They may have to accept the loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Which is as I said. It doesn't matter what weapons and brilliant soldiers your enemy has if he refuses to use them. A player of chess who's lost most of their pieces can still win if their opponent plays extremely defensively and desperately avoids losing pieces of their own. War is very largely about resolve.

We will see, and maybe you are not really suggesting that the consequences of this are an expanded war bringing in Iran and pitting Russia against the combined forces of the rest of the industrial world, in which case mea culpa. But I simply do not think that any of the players, so to speak, right now are willing to risk that much on this particular conflict,

I can see I was unclear. What I meant to say was that because the West is unwilling to go into a larger war, Russia wins.

The stakes are not simply Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I really don't believe Russia gives a damn about that. The stakes are the control of the flow of fossil fuel energy into Europe. Russia in the form of Gazprom already controls the flow into Europe of about two-thirds the natural gas of Eastern Europe, and 25% Europe's gas overall. If they gain control, directly or indirectly, over the BTC line, then in ten or twenty years when the Persian Gulf stops exporting oil, Russia will control most of the oil flowing into Europe, too.

Or NATO could take the land route, from the Mediterranean across Turkey, rather mountainous, or from the Persian Gulf across Iraq, then Azerbaijan and into Georgia. Not a quick and easy stroll; they could only get a limited number of troops there, and it'd be difficult to supply them.

But Iran is in between Iraq and Azerbaijan.

There really is no way to move a major force into Georgia from Europe, without gaining safe passage from some country that will never grant it.

To continue your analogy, the queen may be threatening multiple pieces in the Gulf area, but we have many supporting pieces that must also be defended carefully, lest they be lost from carelessness or cleverly pinned or skewered.

I would say that Russia does not expect any significant response, and plans to simply take a couple of minor pieces without response. If presses, they can always say "enough" and draw back. Certainly the US could reasonably sever roads, bridges, and tunnels to make life harder for the Russians without much escalation risk.

Didn't the US draw down overseas armor after the early days of Iraq? Is there any US heavy armor left in Europe or Eurasia at all?

Heh ... I do play chess.

Physical control over a section of Baku-Supsa which has 145 kb/d throughput would be significant, but not especially troubling to Europe.

This is because Russia already had the ability to shut down Baku-Supsa and Baku-Ceyhan and railways whenever they want via bombing ... as is now being demonstrated. This threat was always there, perhaps you would think of it as a pinned pawn.

The reason behind the pipelines in the eyes of the US policy makers is to give the economic lifeblood of the newly independent countries of the USSR an outlet outside of Russia, not to liberate Europe from dependence on Russian gas and oil.

Europe made its deal with Russia in Soviet times, despite the vigorous objections of the Reagan Administration. Their view was that to tie Russia to the Western European economy made Russia dependent on them much as it made them dependent on Russia. Their view was they were fine if one of their knights was pinned if they themselves had pinned one of their opponent's knight. They are also in negotiations with Iran to provide gas via pipe running through Turkey up into Austria ... apparently they think this strategy has some merit.

Perhaps Russia is willing to invade all of Georgia proper on the understanding that there would be a limited war there. I doubt it, but perhaps it will happen. I suspect that a full-blown invasion of Georgia will invite a stronger response, but, as you suggest, limited to Georgia. This is not because Georgia's oil transportation infrastructure is so critical, but because it would set a bad precedent for the rest of the region.

Russia has disciplined some since Yeltsin, but the notion that their armed forces are up to snuff for a full blown conventional war in a limited area with NATO seems a more than a bit fabulistic to me.

I suspect that Turkey, having a long history of Russian aggression to look to, which, of course, is one of the reasons it remains part of NATO, would be likely to support even Armenia in the event of a Russian invasion. So, I would guess that the Black Sea would be the staging area and that Turkey would make air bases available to NATO forces ... perhaps with a little nudge re: EU membership. Although claiming the skies with the Russian air force would be much more problematic than downing the Iraqi air force, my guess is that the sky would be controlled by NATO. As you know, much of the US Navy is not far from the Black Sea just now ... it wouldn't take all that much to develop it.

Perhaps Russia would consider asymmetrical war in the Black Sea in order to deny it to NATO forces. But, of course, the Black Sea is much larger than the Persian Gulf and Russia isn't particularly close to the main choke point, the Strait of Bosphorus ... and, it would have the uncomfortable aspect of making them appear in the eyes of the world as unable to compete in the conventional sphere, which I suspect is counterproductive in their view.

I do not think that Baku-Ceyhan, when it was originally considered way back in 1999-2000, was developed with Peak Oil in mind--at least I don't remember anyone talking about it in those terms. In 1999 oil ranged between $12-$27/b.

If the issue were to dominate thinking in future geostrategic councils and Russian intentions were seen the way you see them--and not just you, many of the old Sovietologists have been bitching about Russian oil diplomacy for some time now--then the solution wouldn't be so much to build new or other pipelines, but to situate major force projection capability near the Caspian ... and to do things which appear to be counter to Russian interests, like say, expanding NATO to include not only Georgia and the Ukraine, but Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Perhaps Peak Oil is the reason Georgia was being considered in the first place ...

But I think this is all moot because I think that Russia is unlikely to consider a serious full-scale invasion of Georgia because:

a) it undermines their stated justification for the war, which is to protect minority peoples in a former Soviet State which feel more affinity to Russians than they do with the governing ethnicity. This is an important issue for Russians and there have been some troubles in places like Kazakhstan, for example, with the perceived persecution of the Russian minority there.

b) They underscore the issue to the world of their power with respect to oil without having to necessarily embarrass the West for not entering the fray and, should the West enter it, court an embarrassing defeat for Russia.

c) It gives those in the West who consider Russia an enemy to their interests a very powerful rhetorical point.

I may well be wrong; I hope not.

PS -- I see I misunderstood your thoughts on Iran. We appear to be of the same view regarding the unlikelihood of an attack on Iran ... again, I hope we're right.

But I find the notion that Russia is contemplating control of all Georgia to send the message to the EU that "Yes, dear EU, you can support airstrikes on our friends in Iran, but you will gain a new appreciation of your white Christmas, as you're walking out in the cold past your unfuelled cars." strange ...

OK, Iran is out of the game due to a conflict with the US taking at a minimum 2.3 mb/d off the oil markets leaving no way to make up the difference. That itself will send the price of oil to $200-$300 ... you are suggesting that Russia would then do something to send the price even higher ... or dictate terms to Europe? Given what prices nearing $150/b appears to have done to world demand, I think the Russians might regard that as just a tad counterproductive. So far all the cut offs in supply have been to countries that have refused to pay Russia the market price for their gas ... which, I thought, we were supposed to be encouraging them to do ... agree that the market price was the right one, I mean.

Even the notion that Iran and Russia are "friends" is in itself a mixed metaphore and misleading in many ways. Iran has a long history of Russian aggression to look to all on its own ... and, trust me, they haven't forgotten any of it.

This is because Russia already had the ability to shut down Baku-Supsa and Baku-Ceyhan and railways whenever they want via bombing ... as is now being demonstrated. This threat was always there, perhaps you would think of it as a pinned pawn.

This is where real-world strategy differs from chess. There's capability and then there's intent. For example, the US has the capability to invade, occupy and annex (say) Belgium, but it doesn't have the intent, so you'll find Belgium doesn't have strong seaward defences.

So whenever some country has the ability to do this or that, we have to assess whether they have the intent to do it. And sometimes you have to actually do it before anyone believes you. This incursion into Georgia by Russia thus serves notice to the West, "you bet we'll do it."

Russia has disciplined some since Yeltsin, but the notion that their armed forces are up to snuff for a full blown conventional war in a limited area with NATO seems a more than a bit fabulistic to me.

Let me guess: you were one of the ones who said of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, "it'll be a cakewalk"? :) It's common for countries to underestimate potential enemies, and Russia is famous for being underestimated by invaders.

That's not to say they're militarily brilliant, but simply to say, "you never until you try."

I do not think that Baku-Ceyhan, when it was originally considered way back in 1999-2000, was developed with Peak Oil in mind--at least I don't remember anyone talking about it in those terms.

And the leadership of the US didn't mention peak oil in the context of the invasion of Iraq, but... Just because it wasn't discussed publicly doesn't mean it wasn't a factor.

Even with infinite resources, it is in any case good to have a diversity of sources for your country's imports of essential resources. It gives you resilience, if one country decides they don't like you, or finds a higher bidder, or has production troubles, or whatever.

What Russia plans I don't know. The point is that this incursion gives them many options, all of them good for Russia and bad for the West.

Iran and Russia are "friends" only in the sense that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." With the US stomping around in their backyard, they have a common interest.

Actually, I was very surprised at the apparent lack of resistance by the IRG and the apparent ease of the invasion of Iraq. I also warned, people thought shrilly even, that the situation invited a civil war. Perhaps the later analysis was ignored because of the earlier analysis.

As I said, misleading in many ways. Russia is not America's enemy. Russia may in some instances have some interests which coincide with Iran's interests, but most of its interests actually coincide with America and Europe's interests.

You think so? Better tell Putin and Medvedev, going by their actions, they disagree.

"We should be friends, really..." Good luck with that.

What I haven't seen is how far is one of these pumping stations from the South Ossetian border? Since the pipeline goes underground, control of territory above it, does not, I would think, equate to control over a segment of the pipeline. If the Russians take control over South Ossetia, and then conveniently expands the border of that province a few miles to "guarantee the rights of ethnic Ossetians", and if this new border happily encompasses one of the pipeline pumping stations, couldn't Russian effectively control the pipeline? And, if they do this, could they not say to the Azeris that a "strategic partnership" was in their best interest?

I understand that ethnic considerations and the constant poking the bear with a sharp stick by NATO have much to do with Russia's motivations. However, considering the oil angle, it does look like this conflict has the potential to give Russia control over much of the Caspian oil.

Yes, I was considering that too. De facto, South Ossetia is now Russian, but that does not give Russia control over the oil pipeline. So, we should expect some secondary move beyond Ossetia if Russia's intent is to tighten its control over energy flows to Europe (which is what I believe is happening).

Occupy Georgia? Seems a bit extreme. Regime change would seem to be a better route brought about by the implosion of Georgia's economy (the bombing of the port at Poti?). But either would obviously do the job, I suppose it depends on how fast Russia want to get control.

Since the pipeline goes underground, control of territory above it, does not, I would think, equate to control over a segment of the pipeline

You do know the burial depth is 1 metre, don't you?

Sky News

Earlier today, Russia launched an aerial bombardment of the Georgian town of Gori and Georgia said Russian bombers have destroyed the Black Sea port of Poti.

Georgia also claimed that Russian fighter jets targeted the the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline but missed.

Some background on Poti and the trade routes

Invest in Georgia

Black Sea Ports & Shipping:

This type of transportation accounts for 41% of total cargo imported in Georgia. There are 2 ports on the Black Sea, Poti and Batumi. Georgia’s ports have rail ferry links with Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Bulgaria. Both ports are key links in the TRACECA trade route.

Poti (depth 11 meters; established 1858; – Georgia is developing a free economic zone on the territory of Poti and surrounding area to allow investors to leverage Georgia’s strategic location. Poti is estimated to carry 15.5 million tons by 2010 and 19.0 million tons by 2015.

Very interesting timeline from 1801 to today for perspective;

"Timeline: Georgia and South Ossetia"

1801: Russian empire swallows up a large area of modern-day Georgia




April: Abkhazian and Georgian troops come close to war

July: Heightened tension between Georgia and Russia, with several explosions in Abkhazia. US warns Russia against stoking tensions in breakaway regions

August 1: Heavy fighting breaks out in South Ossetia, killing six people and injuring seven.

August 3: Hundreds of women and children are evacuated across the border to Russia

August 8: Georgian tanks launch an attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, killing at least 15 people.

And read what Debka file reports:

Georgian tanks and infantry, aided by Israeli military advisers, captured the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, early Friday, Aug. 8, bringing the Georgian-Russian conflict over the province to a military climax......
DEBKAfile discloses Israel’s interest in the conflict from its exclusive military sources:

Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel’s oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean.

Aware of Moscow’s sensitivity on the oil question, Israel offered Russia a stake in the project but was rejected.

Last year, the Georgian president commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also offer instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel.

Ah, Debka, writers of hilarious propaganda. The key to understanding the above cited piece is to note that the word "owns" in the first sentence of para #2 should be replaced by the word "has" - the Israeli government, and for that matter, private Israeli interests, - have no equity/ownership stakes in any trans-Caspian pipelines whatsoever.

Even more bafflingly, Debka seems to be unaware that Russia already uses the Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline for crude shipments ( at a very hefty discount ), as it's a convenient way of avoiding Suez canal limitations on tanker sizes.

I bet the Israelis are less eager to be associated with the glorious achievements of the Georgian military than they were three days ago. Those second-hand American uniforms the Georgians are wearing don't seem to be helping much either.

Georgia says may pull out of Beijing Games

Georgia may pull its 35-strong Olympic team out of the Beijing Games because of Russian military attacks on its territory, the country's National Olympic Committee told Reuters on Saturday.

"We're talking about it now. It will be the decision of the president of the country (Mikheil Saakashvili)," spokesman Giorgi Tchanishvili said in the Chinese capital

How odd it was to see Bush and Putin talking and sitting next to each other at the Opening Ceremonies at the Olympic Games last night.

OT...the Opening Ceremonies were amazing. We had some friends over and I made the comment "if we ever go to war with China, we are toast" because of the amazing technology and discipline of the performers.

The BBC is reporting Putin has arrived at a Russian city near to South Ossetia. He's a busy chap isn't he.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin, arriving in Russia's North Ossetia region on his return from the Olympics, said it was unlikely now that South Ossetia would reintegrate with the rest of Georgia

*Edit* to include quote

"Noting the proximity of Azerbaijan to Iran, one ought to speculate on the fact that a war has been brewing between Iran and the U.S. for three years. By invading Georgia the Russians are assuring the Iranians of Moscow’s readiness to confront the U.S. By invading Georgia the Russians are exacerbating the global energy crisis by strengthening all anti-American forces in the Middle East."

Yeap -- it's a power move for Iran in this chess game. We just chewed on too many things and can't seem to get ourselves in shape.

If the next few weeks, violence all breaks loose in Iraq, you know things are going as planned.

Luckily (or should I say coincidentally), the US dollar has recently strengthened enormously and the price of crude has plummeted. If a larger-scale war breaks out soon, the impact on the dollar and crude will be much less than say a month or so ago.

How convenient!!

There is more than one way to wage a war, isn't there?

One smell a conspiracy.

It probably doesn't matter, but who, DF, do you think are the conspirators?

Most of us mice will just try to hide and watch.

Who has the power and ammo to move the US dollar and price of crude as it has in the last couple weeks? Who gains advantage by these moves?

Any nation with loads of US-denominated assests could do much to move the valuation of US currency, which then moves the price of WTI crude.

And who stands to be hurt by these moves? Certainly Russia would stand to lose profit on their petroleum with such moves.

I don't think the reality of the BTC pipeline is settled, in the mind of Putin. I think the very existence of the BTC pipeline is an infuriating piece of infrastructure that dilutes Russia's control over supply to West--either from Russia, or from Russia's sphere of influence.

In addition, my analysis of the Russian Export Duty on exported oil (now at 67.50 USD) in combination with other extraction taxes and transport costs tells me that Moscow has currently put a floor under exported oil that is closer to 90.00/bbl.

I think it would be convenient, therefore, if the BTC pipeline--already damaged in Turkey from a PKK attack--was "accidently damaged" in this Georgia conflict. Regardless, it seems this conflict will somehow be an excuse for Russia to assert itself more strongly, over Georgia. Even though I don't know what that would look like.

Is confronation with the US really such a huge disincentive, to Moscow? It's not like we have a lot of leverage over them. They are the number one/number two producer, they hold lots of USD, and alot of their USD is in the form of Agency Bonds, amidst the regular Treasuries.

It would seem to me that one thing leaders enjoy doing, once they accede to office, is to probe for how far they can expand executive power. Clearly, a series of small affronts to Russian power from the West and the US over the past 7 years has reached a boiling point for the Kremlin--which itself is likely operating under its own, historical sense of hyper-sensitivity.

Should be fun to watch Russia probe here, for the outer reaches of their power.


Should be fun to watch Russia probe here, for the outer reaches of their power.


Yeah -- as long as bombs don't fall near where you and your love ones live. It's not fun anymore to see those idiots in power commit to the wasteful use of the earth's resource which we have less and less of. Destroy and then "have-to" rebuild do not make an efficient way to live -- however, it will make someone rich for sure.

Well, we've already got the August, and now it appears the Guns are in place. Is it 1914 yet?

This Russia/Georgia thing must surely upset whatever calculus the Bush Regime and Israel are using in their decision to attack or not to attack Iran.

There are so many factors to consider, it makes one's head spin. Some might think that with Russia preoccupied with Georgia it is not likely to come to the aid of Iran if it is attacked by the US and/or Israel. On the other hand, one could also conclude that Russia is making it clear that it is not going to be messed around with and that it is willing to risk military conflict.

I have a feeling that over the next few weeks there is going to be a convergence of bad things on a variety of fronts.

The US is highly dependent from Russia. Not only, that Russia has emerged as one of the 5 largest creditors to the US. No, it goes further. It is energy, stupid.

Did you know, that...

One-tenth of America’s electricity comes from fuel made from Russian nuclear warheads. The Megatons to Megawatts program converts highly-enriched uranium in Russian weapons into low-enriched uranium that is used in US civilian nuclear power reactors.

My view is: Russia has shown reluctance to part with it and if a worldwide energy crisis is triggered expect the worst from them regarding honoring and extending uranium supply contracts.

I'm sure whatever think-tanks the Bush folks rely upon have had this set of events as a possibility in their game plan. Now the inputs to the game-plan will be adjusted accordingly to see what are the next highest probability success plans from which to proceed...the real question is "plans for what goal"?

When you play chess a lot, you find that at the most basic, there are two kinds of players: players who after the opening moves have a long-term plan, and players who do nothing but respond to the other guy's moves.

Guess which one always wins.

Now, looking at the various NATO governments, do they seem to you to be more the sort of player who has a long-term plan, or one who just responds to the other guy's moves?

Kiashu...I agree on the two types of players, however, I find it very difficult to believe with the software and personnel at their disposal, the neocons are not looking long term in their strategy. I agree moves in the last eight years have seem quite short-sighted. There is always the possibility that good long-term strategies have been presented but dropped due to a short-sighted BushCo team that "thinks" they know better than they do. Perhaps this is where some of the internal conflicts in the US upper-level military ranks vs. BushCo has originated.

This is truly looking like the beginning of the fun and games of the peak oil /resource depletion games.This could spin out of hand so quickly all we would know was when the bright flashes start to incinerate our city's. Why did we think that it was safe to leave bush in office for the last few months?

That question may haunt a lot of people.

I'll borrow a line that has been extremely popular the past several years:

"No one could have possibly predicted..."

Except all of us who were screaming WTF!!! when the Supreme Court "installed" the current WH occupant in the ancient times of the year 2000.

This is like listening to a parent complain that an ump's call cost their 12 year old the championship. If the game hadn't been tied, the call wouldn't have mattered. Next time, play a better game and don't drop the ball or strand your runner on base. Simple fact is that the split was about 50-50, and there was no "majority will" to speak of, and neither candidate was very strong. Same is true this year nearly as I can tell.

My basic problem with the whole scenario is that the judiciary branch of our government has no business appointing the leader of the executive branch.

Wolverine, I have to side with Paleocon on this.

There were many flaws in the 2000 election, the vote purges in Florida, the recount protocols, the candidates brother being the governor, the media calling the election, etc. All of them are serious problems that no democracy should allow and they need to be addressed.

But the biggest problem is that roughly half of the country voted for a halfwit! Same thing in 2004. The big problem is that the election was close, it shouldn't have been close at all. In a democracy one needs an informed and active citizenry. Our democracy has fallen so far that it has become possible for the country to elect men like Bush. We need to get the citizenry up to code or the future of the country will be very bleak.

Wolverine, I have to side with Paleocon on this.

There were many flaws in the 2000 election, the vote purges in Florida, the recount protocols, the candidates brother being the governor, the media calling the election, etc. All of them are serious problems that no democracy should allow and they need to be addressed.

Huh? The first sentence and the rest of the quote are contradictory. All of the actions you assert were the result of the same cabal moving to steal an election. That being the case, how can you possibly agree wtih paleocon, who is in some ways attempting objectivity, but in certain cases eventually does nothing but make excuses for a wide range of illegal and unconstitutional activities?

The SC acting at all was inappropriate. That it acted because of previous maneuvering by the BuCheney cabal is simply the final extension of the gambit.


Hey hey ccpo,

You gotta read the whole post man.

But the biggest problem is that roughly half of the country voted for a halfwit! Same thing in 2004. The big problem is that the election was close, it shouldn't have been close at all. In a democracy one needs an informed and active citizenry. Our democracy has fallen so far that it has become possible for the country to elect men like Bush. We need to get the citizenry up to code or the future of the country will be very bleak.

Wolverine thinks that the problem is the bending and breaking of rules like the S.C. deciding the outcome of an election. And Paleocon thinks that the problem is that the race was close. I have to side with Paleocon. In Bush vs Gore, W's principle qualification was being yanked out of a former first lady's crotch, and he garnered very close to half of the vote.

In 2004 W's primary accomplishment was being asleep at the wheel when the second Pearl Harbor occurred. He got extra points for starting two wars, one on completely fabricated pretenses, and he still managed to convince half of the electorate that keeping him on the payroll was a good idea.

It was only because the elections were close that Jeb and Blackwell were able to have any material impact on the outcome. IT was only possible for the Supreme Court to get involved in 2000 because of the razor thin margin. The S.C. didn't intervene in the 2004 election because there wasn't any opportunity to do so.

The caliber of democracy in America has fallen so far that these things have become possible. Both the voting irregularities and the broad support for a halfwit. If we want to right this ship we need an informed and active citizenry that is up to the task, which we clearly don't have right now. And until we do politicians of W's caliber will continue winning elections. The persistent interpretation is that 'we' got cheated in 2000, but I think that we got exactly what we deserved.

I have to agree. The election was stolen, but the real problem was that it was close enough to steal. To me, the biggest problem is not even with the 25% of the electorate that voted for Bush, it's with the 48.7% of the electorate that didn't bother to show up.

I've talked to too many people who don't vote because they're "not into politics". If you don't vote, you have no right to complain.

If you don't vote, you have no right to complain.

Nonsense. Elections have become nothing more than a means of maintaining the illusion that people are participating in some meaningful way, and thereby gaining their buy-in. Now imagine if the turn out got down to the single digits - no one would be able to pretend that there was any legitimacy ("mandate") to the corporate clowns presented to us. Voting for the best-of-the-worst has failed.

were the result of the same cabal moving to steal an election...

Not all the same cabal.

The most conservative part of Florida is in the Central Time Zone (Pensacola Naval Base, AL & GA type rural voters, etc.). When the polls closed in the Eastern Time Zone, the networks called over the objections of the GWB campaign. There were reports of voters leaving the lines in "deep red" areas when they learned that their votes would not count, and more surely did not make the last minute drive to the polls (or turned around when they heard on the radio).

Had the MSM not done this, there would have likely been no need for a Supreme Court decision, etc. etc. GWB would have been several hundred to a thousand votes ahead (reasonable guess).

Best Hopes for Truth over Passion,


But the biggest problem is that roughly half of the country voted for a halfwit!

How about the 100,000 or so in Florida that voted for Nader? If one percent of them had voted for Gore, it would have swung the election the other way.


You are looking at this the wrong way. The problem isn't that a tiny percent of the population voted for something novel, it's that a large percent voted for something dumb.

We hear at The Oil Drum are energy mavens, and as such we are in a good position to judge the quality of the two candidates' energy policies. I believe of the candidates we determined that Paris Hilton had the best plan. I assure you that policies in other areas of importance, like the environment and the economy, are of roughly the same quality.

We have been steadily losing ground in this fight for a viable democracy. I can tell you what the outcome of this election is going to be with as much certainty as you can tell me what future exports will look like. It's going to be bad. We desperately need to play a better game. If half the country can't tell a good idea from a bad one then we are in a lot of trouble.

I think it's worse than that. I think all 90+% split their votes between two poor candidates. The party machines put forth mediocre but "safe" candidates, and then 'sell' them as best they can.

This area has been considered for some time (years) by the folks at Forth Coming UK Energy defecit (FCUKED) at and is trying to keep up with developments.

One item that hasn't been discussed enough is China's role in this mess.

Privately, they must be absolutely outraged that a US-proxy appears to have begun a military action on the eve of their Olympic games.

Outwardly there have been no rumblings from China, but you can bet that this insult to their national honor will be remembered in the years to come.

Dragons are known to have extremely long memories.

From China's perspective,
the critical issue is surely about persuading Putin to ensure that the oil pipeline remains undamaged.

Were it to be closed for some time,
the restoration of escalating global oil prices would threaten the CP's hold on power in China,
as that country is already heading for lower growth,
but an economic crash, without the social benefits of a full welfare state,
would quite likely alienate a pivotal fraction of the young middle class.



Massive US Naval Armada Heads For Iran

"The intent is to create a US/EU naval blockade (which is an Act of War under international law) around Iran (with supporting air and land elements) to prevent the shipment of benzene and certain other refined oil products headed to Iranian ports."\.html

Is Benzene that important ?


By invading Georgia the Russians are assuring the Iranians of Moscow’s readiness to confront the U.S. By invading Georgia the Russians are exacerbating the global energy crisis by strengthening all anti-American forces in the Middle East

Are you sure there is not a private deal that allows Russia to attack Georgia without U.S. interference and allows the U.S. to attack Iran without Russian interference?

If that's the case no alliances are worth much if the primary powers start doing pawn trades. What do we get for Taiwan?

Edit: And maybe that's why Putin and Bush could be chummy at the Olympics? All that was needed was a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge"? Note that Russia will also make billions in add'l oil revenue in the weeks to come, so this would be an expensive trade for the US.

Don't know where that blogger is from, but in some countries they use the word "benzene" for what in the US is called "gasoline". And as we know, Iran does not have sufficient refining capacity to satisfy its internal demand for gasoline.

Secondary pipeline access in Georgia destroyed by Russia

The main route has apparently been shut down due to a PKK bomb and is closed too.

Azerbaijan halts oil exports via Georgia ports: state oil firm

BAKU (AFP) — Azerbaijan has halted oil exports via the Georgian ports of Batumi and Kulevi due to clashes between Russia and Georgia, the head of the state oil company said Saturday.

"Since last night the import and export of oil through the Georgian ports of Kulevi and Batumi have been halted," said Rovnag Abdullayev, the head of the Azeri state oil company SOCAR, in televised comments.

Hello TODers,

I have no idea as to the truth or falsity of this weblink, but it doesn't sound good:
US faults Russia for rising violence in Georgia
By JOAN LOWY – 1 hour ago

..."They have employed strategic bombers — the most potent air weaponry that is in the Russian arsenal .... They actually launched ballistic missile attacks on Georgian territory," the official said. He also said Russia has sent more than 1,000 paratroopers and armor into the region.
I am assuming by strategic bombers they mean the Russian equivalent to our B-52 or B-2 heavy payload bombers, not some dinky fighter plane dropping a small bomb or two. Also, when the word 'ballistic' comes to my mind: I picture a fairly good size, electronic guided missile lifting off from Russian native ground for a significant flight downrange to its target, not those multiple, unguided dinky rockets that are inaccurately fired in bundles in a general direction.

Let's hope this is proven to be exaggeration, not further escalation.

Hell, now CNN is saying the same thing:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Russia's use of strategic bombers and ballistic missiles against Georgia's civilians outside of the South Ossetian conflict is "far disproportionate" to Georgia's alleged attack on Russian peacekeepers, a senior U.S. official said Saturday.

...Russia's use of its potent air weaponry signals a "severe" and "dangerous escalation in the crisis," the official said.

"For the life of me, I can't image that being a proportionate response to the charge that Georgia has attacked Russian peacekeepers," the official said. "It's hard for us to understand what Russia's plan is here."

...The official said European allies have told the United States that Russia has "crossed a line of unacceptable behavior" and should "expect international condemnation."

"I do sense an emerging unified view among our key allies," he said.
Uhh, care to clue us in on this view? Is NATO going to Cowboy Up, or do the Neville Chamberlin move, or something else? Inquiring minds sure would like to know.

If I had my way: I would lock the UN negotiators inside a room. They would then have 4 hours to reach an agreement, or the poison gas gets them all. If this first group fails: then the next group of UN diplomats, when locked in this room, are then more highly incentivized to reach a workable solution.

Perhaps they chose ballistic missiles to thumb their nose at our lack of missile defenses there?

I would say it's not what they used but how much they destroy that matters. Since this doesn't appear to be a tit-for-tat response, it seems to me that Russia was just looking for an excuse, and likely provoked one. Georgia didn't realize they were being played, and the US was caught off-guard as well?

Yes, you've clearly been saying it is the Russians who provoked this for their benefit all through the thread, a point which you have provided nothing to support. The fallacy is that this is an incident in and of itself, which it is not - it is part of a continuing series of events. It is not yet clear who miscalculated most in this particular incident, nor who broke the latest peace - although most of the news reports are saying the Georgians fired first. To be honest, I've found your obvious and transparent bleating about it being the Russians fault to be tedious and annoying.

Let's see....the Russians said they'd remove troops from Georgia and the breakaway regions. They pulled the Georgian bases last year (I think) but left "peacekeepers". The US and EU both have called on Russia to leave and admit other peacekeepers, as they (a) weren't keeping the peace and (b) seemed to be supporting the republics forces unilaterally. Georgia said on several occasions (as recently as July) that they viewed the "peacekeepers" as a threat, and if the situation didn't calm down they would take action to squash the continuing violence. Russia, besides granting passports to the republic citizens, also sided with the breakaway republic leaders in refusing any repatriation of refugees from Georgia, who are of course previous residents of the disputed areas who had earlier fled or been driven out.

This is just a snapshot of developments this year. Russia clearly supports secession of the republics, and is squarely on the side of secession away from separatist states toward Russia but not away from Russia towards other states (like Chechen separatists). The US and EU have of course played the same game the other way around with Bosnia vs Georgia.

I'm sure there is plenty of history to go around, but the Stratfor timeline for this week shows separatist violence being the instigation that keyed off the Georgian escalation that killed "peacekeepers" that keyed the Russian escalation.
/start bleat It is clear that Georgia miscalculated, but it is not at all clear to me that Russia has miscalculated at all. /end bleat

I tend to point out the obvious because so few people notice otherwise. :)

Hello Paleocon,

Thxs for responding. First off: I think we would need to confirm the exact weaponry applied, plus an accurate damage assessment-->I bet oiltraders the world over would ante up bigtime for their own AWACS plane to observe just what the hell is really going on. But I would assume Russia, NATO, or the US would never allow this 'real-time, free market info-system' to occur as it would drastically affect the present profit setup...'MPP for a few, none for J6P'.... which is the real, behind-the-scene driver of this event.

Nowadays, high altitude, JDAM-equipped heavy bombers can really drop the Boom accurately on many multiple targets in a single flyby. Just one of these flying badboys is more accurate than an entire WWII bombing squadron. Picture a carpet-bombing that really works--not just blowing harmless holes in some farmers' fields-- a world of difference from a small fighter strafing and/or a simple gravity-release bombing run. So, I see this as an overt, and unnecessary, escalation by the Russians. Moving a knight chesspiece as compared to another pawn.

Also, unless you have very advanced ABMs like a Patriot battery, there is no defense against a conventional warhead ballistic missile. These just come in way too fast. But if the Russians just fire a few of these, but the AWACS [or whatever they use] fully track them, upgrading the Patriot software is a simple task. Thus, maybe the longer range goal here is to get the Russians to slightly over-react now, but be more neutralized later. Again, I have no idea as to overall motivations by all these engaged participants, but if the Russians were smart: they would fire these from South Ossetia for a quick trip, not from further back from Russian soil-->IMO, that would be a real bad mis-calculated escalation on their part.

Second: Time is of the essence as people die, panic, and infrastructure gets blown away. IMO, the longer this goes on, the harder it will be to reach an agreement, or a miscalculation may occur making things worse.

Third: Like the poster upthread mentioned, I find Georgia striking Ossetia without prior, secret consultations with NATO or the US first as hard to believe, too--->but who knows?. Maybe NATO & the US needed this event so they could accurately study/characterize Russian weapons, tactics, motivations, etc. NATO jets could have been allowed in as defensive backup as soon as the first Russian jet went beyond the South Ossetian zone. F-16s/F-22s? from Incirlik and Euro-bases could have been on scene very quickly to stalemate force a pure ground battle between the opposing forces. No opposing armies have the stomach for a protracted mutual-meatgrinder for very long.

Fourth: if the reports of the all the shot-down Russian fighter planes is true [10 I think at last count], perhaps some new military tech has caught the Russians by surprise--> an unacceptable kill ratio for them.

Again, my feeble two cents.

The Russian UN ambassador replied, when asked by a reporter if it was Israeli missiles that brought down Russian planes, something like. "I don't know. [Long Pause] I believe that's public knowledge." But I might have misheard.

Russia is still admitting to only two planes downed last I heard.

Any armchair (or otherwise) defence experts know if it could be SPYDER

Three SPYDER-SR (short-range) systems have been sold to an undisclosed country. The system was displayed for the first time at the Paris Air Show 2005 in Le Bourget. Company firing tests of the system are currently underway.

SPYDER is a low-level quick-reaction surface-to-air missile system capable of engaging aircraft, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles, drones and precision-guided munitions. It provides air defence for fixed assets and for point and area defence for mobile forces in combat areas.

The SPYDER-SR system has 360° engagement capability and the missiles can be launched from the full-readiness state in less than five seconds from target confirmation. The kill range is from less than 1km to more than 15km and at altitudes from a minimum of 20m to a maximum of 9,000m. The system is capable of multi-target simultaneous engagement and also single, multiple and ripple firing, by day and night and in all weathers.

Edit: President of Georgia just claimed (to Wolf Blitzer on CNN) that they have now shot down about 20 Russian aircraft.

The rockets that Palestinians fire into Israel might be called 'ballistic missiles'. It's not entirely accurate, but close enough for a neocon or other nutcase who wants to inflame public opinion.

How is this report made less inflammatory by the US official keeping his name secret?

Who else has reported that Georgians have refused to negotiate?

Stratfor says "missiles" but doesn't differentiate. The videos on YouTube I watched all show multiple-rocket style barrages, but that's not very conclusive.

Even in the Stratfor time-line there are contradictions and some evident confusion, but it's the most complete I've seen. It's pay-walled, but if you Google "Stratfor Georgia timeline" I think it'll link-through and let you view them (at least it did for me).

The Georgians say they've offered two cease fire proposals, the Russians say they haven't gotten any. Both sides are news agencies, so who knows which is right?

Hello Geek7,

Yep, your absolutely right--the semantics need to be totally clear on this issue, so hopefully the MSM can get to the bottom of this description. Worlds of difference between a cumulative one-ton bunch of dinky warheads on military bottle rockets vs a precision guided one-ton warhead on a single rocket.

News source list from Georgia


Latest article is Russia's air strike dropped three bombs on an aircraft factory's runways outside Tbilisi, 10 Aug. '08 06:15

Russians bomb airfield

Russian planes have bombed an airfield on the outskirts of the Georgian capital after the Kremlin rejected international calls for a ceasefire.

A Georgian government spokesman said the raid had inflicted damage to the runways of an aircraft factory near Tbilisi but there were no casualties.

US officials have warned that the conflict over the separatist region of South Ossetia is "escalating".

Another article on the bombing of the airfield

Russia planes hit Georgian airfield

"Russian planes dropped several bombs on a military airfield not far from Tbilisi International Airport," the secretary of Georgia's national security council, Alexander Lomaia, told AFP.
Russia has brought 6,000 troops into Georgia and a further 4,000 troops by sea and is preparing to attack Georgia at dawn, a Georgian Interior Ministry official said early on Sunday.

"All of them are waiting for dawn to start active actions. Georgia faces a humanitarian catastrophe," Shota Utiashvili, the head of the Georgian Interior Ministry's information department, told Reuters.

Georgia 'pulls out of S Ossetia'

Looks like the Russians are going to take back S. Ossetia

Shakaasvali is the soul-mate of the US neo-cons but he may have been deluded in his thought process that he could launch an adventure like this and succeed in humiliating Russia but if he didn't succeed, his mentors would come to rescue him.

If Georgia can separate from the Soviet Union, South Ossetia can secede from Georgia. UN could hold a referendum if it wants; there was no referendum when Stalin gave Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Georgia. If Georgia really thought South Ossetia was Georgia and Ossetians were Georgians, they won't attack them with artillery and tanks, kill 2000 and wound thousands in a city of 30,000. How can they expect Ossetians to bear and grin after this. Germans thought it was ok for Croatia to secede from Yugoslavia. US thought bombing Serbia on the Kosovar issue was a humanitarian thing to do. Now Russia is Nazi Germany attacking Czechoslovakia? They bombed Gori because it is a staging ground for the Georgian army to launch attacks on Ossetia.

If Russians are devious enough they could 'accidentally' bomb the entire length of the BTC pipeline.

Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, said Russia’s ambitions were even more extensive. He declared that Georgia was in a state of war, and said in an interview that Russia was planning to seize ports and an oil pipeline and to overthrow his government.

Georgian officials said that Russian warplanes had attacked the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, operated by British Petroleum, that carries oil to the West from Asia, but that the pipeline had not been struck.

Two simple points -
1. BTC carries oil at the pleasure of Russia due to its location and Russia's military capabilities. Attempting to bypass Russia and Iran by piping oil via Georgia was a fool's strategy all along. Back to the drawing board.
2. The biggest issue here isn't energy, it's global thermonuclear war. Think about how close we have come - just a few weeks ago Nato was talking about admitting Georgia, which would have obliged Nato to get involved. The consequences would have been unthinkable - it would be 1914 all over again, but with nukes. A similar problem looms with Ukraine and the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. Everyone should understand that Ukraine will leave Sevastopol before Russia will.

Unless the West stops trying to play strategic games on Russia's borders, really bad things (i.e. worse than peak oil) are going to happen.

These comments don't address the morality of the situation, which in the end is just a matter of opinion anyway. In all wars all sides kill civilians while denying it or claiming it is accidental. In a power struggle, either someone must back down, or there must be all-out war until someone is crushed. In this case Russia can't back down without capitulating to the West since they have already continually backed down until the West backed three conflicts (Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine) right on or inside Russia's borders. conflict is on their borders. So for everyone's sake, we need the West to back down (too bad for Georgia), and energy security is secondary in this case.

Some maps showing areas of Georgian Control before the latest conflict,203072164

Was Georgia played?

It’s increasingly clear that the Russians were very ready for this conflict. In fact it’s looking like the Georgians did exactly what Moscow wanted.

Some Background:

Frozen Conflicts 3: Welcome to South Ossetia

Relations between the two groups turned septic largely because of bad leadership during the late Soviet years. One man in particular — Zviad Gamsakhurdia, first President of independent Georgia — bears much of the blame



Moscow has every interest in fostering a brink-of-war atmosphere. Having pressured Georgia heavily in Abkhazia in recent months while allowing a temporary lull in South Ossetia, Russia is now shifting the pressure onto this front. As in previous years, Moscow deems the month of August propitious for staging military incidents in Georgia, while European officials take their vacations. This year, however, may differ from previous ones in that Russian and proxy forces could stage the seasonal clashes both in Abkhazia and in South Ossetia, and possibly with a higher intensity.



Georgian UAV being shotdown by MIG-29

This is yet another circumstance where the US will not relent on Russia, in this case by attempting to sign break away republics into NATO. The other major front is by trying to set up anti-missle shields in the Czech Republic and Poland. All this does is anger Russia, which is probably a bad road to go down due to Russia's rising oil wealth.

Why does America have to force itself onto the world politically and militarily? Why can't we be a strong country that doesn't inflame other powers? Is it so hard not to stick our proverbial finger in the hornets nest?

The US has 4.5% of the world's population, and about 25% of the world's wealth and resource consumption.

That is why the US forces itself on the world politically and militarily, to support that unfair share of the world's wealth. Without pushing others around, the US would drift down to around 10% of the world's wealth and resources - not merely 4.5% since it has a lot of its own resources, lots of well-educated people, and so on.

The alternative to pushing other countries around is no more burgers and SUVs. Try getting elected on that platform.

Live Ossetia blog:

Didn't anyone else think that Russia's response was way too quick to be retaliatory (were they trying to trick Georgia into striking first)? It seemed like within hours of Georgia starting this whole mess, Russia had hundreds of tanks, dozens of fighter planes, and thousands of men across the border, engaging the enemy. It took the US months to mobilize for the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. Perhaps Russia's just a hundred times quicker...

A quote from the BBC:

Some were also angry that Georgia's Western allies - particularly the United States - hadn't intervened more strongly.

"Many people can't understand why the West failed to protect us," said Sandro, a student in Tbilisi.

"America was seen as an ally, and Georgian soldiers have been dying in Iraq in the interests of global security. But the West has shown that it doesn't care about Russia invading other countries."

"All they did was express 'concerns' while bombs were falling on us," added Shalva, his friend.

Looks like the Gerogians were living in one of the neocons rose tinted realities.

So what's the mighty empire of debt going to do about it? Looks like they need to project some power here, but can they? I think the World is on the cusp of a monumental change in global power relationships. Possibly the stakes in this conflict are much larger than we've realised. It may have come about because of the pipeline, etc, but the significance of the moment may just be growing on everyone including the Russians and the US as to its potential.

Just conjecture at the moment of course.

Russian Troops Tighten Hold on Georgia

Near the border, Georgian soldiers were bewildered that they had been pushed out. Exhausted troops, their faces covered with stubble, said they were angry at the United States and EU for not coming to Georgia’s aid.

A Georgian major who only gave his name as Georgy, said, “Over the past few years I lived in a democratic country, and I was happy. Now America and the European Union spit on us.” He was driving an armored truck out of South Ossetia.

Edit: to add new link and quote

Burgundy -

It sounds like the Georgians were either living in a dream world, or had started to believe their government's own propaganda.

Did they really honestly believe that the US, already tied down in Iraq and Afganistan and poised for a possible attack on Iran, was going to engage in a land war with the Red Army right in Russia's own backyard?

To me, that would be like if the state of Maine had seceded from the US and the US had taken military action to bring it back under its rule, and the citizens of Maine became disappointed because Russia did go to war with the US to protect Maine. Just as delusional.

This situation is a perfect example of how alliances that ensure military protection can be extremely toxic. It is well to remember that in the summer of 1914 the main reason that Austria was so boldly belligent toward Serbia after the assassination of the Archduke was that it felt it had assurances from Germany that it would come to Austria's aid should Russia come to Serbia's aid. And we all know how that sad story ended.

They wanted to satrt WW3 over the rights 70,000 people? They can go rot in hell for I care.

Expect the Russians to depose Saakashvilli. They are not going to leave a government in power in Georgia that is seeking NATO membership. After all Bush wants to give it to them. They will install a pro-Russian government if they can, and if they can't, they will probably stay there.

So what is the potential for this conflict expanding?

US condemns 'dangerous' Russian response in South Ossetia

Amid fears that hostilities between Russia and Georgia could spread, Ukraine has warned Russia it could bar Russian navy ships from returning to their base in the Crimea because of their deployment to Georgia's coast.

Ukraine's foreign ministry said in a statement on its website the deployment could draw Ukraine into the conflict, and in such a situation Ukraine would have the right to bar the ships from returning to their base.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, expressed concern that the heavy fighting that broke out last week between Georgia and Russia could also spread to another restive Georgian province, Abkhazia.

Moon said he was "profoundly concerned over mounting tensions in the Abkhaz zone".

UN peacekeeping officials said there were indications the Abkhaz were preparing to launch a military offensive against Georgian special forces in the upper Kodori gorge in northern Abkhazia.

"At this point we are particularly concerned that the conflict appears to be spreading beyond South Ossetia into Abkhazia," the UN assistant secretary general for peacekeeping, Edmond Mulet, said.

Georgia said that Russia last night landed 4,000 troops by sea on the Black Sea coast of the province, the larger of Georgia's two breakaway regions.


I think Russia was ready and waiting. It has been setting Georgia's rebels up for a long time.

Bush has been pushing Putin over that missile shield thing and also thought he was setting Georgia up as a US pawn.

I think Russia was just waiting to kick Bush (and the US) in the ass at the first opportunity. This seems to be it. NATO was supposed to close after the cold war, but I guess the US did not want to get rid of its Big-stick just in case they needed it.

Remember how, just post USSR, we kept asking, "What will we do with all our peace-bonus money", now that there is no enemy. Well of course we made damn sure that we pissed off a whole Globe full of enemies rather than reduce lobbyists and funding pet programs.

The US is the last economic Domino to fall. It looks like it will be "System change" very soon now.

Georgia's President will be crucified. (For the stupidity of thinking the US actually cared about Georgia. Those ex Russian states are just chess pieces.

Now that the US is weak, Russia will play a reverse game and re-consolidate its old empire, piece by piece.

I honestly think it really is time for the US to pull in all its tentacles and start worrying about keeping possession of its own land mass.

Jerome a Paris has posted more coverage of the Georgia situation. Some excerpts:

The warmongers have lost yet another war.

Georgia 'pulls out of S Ossetia'
Georgia says its troops have withdrawn from the breakaway region of South Ossetia and that Russian forces are in control of its capital, Tskhinvali.

A government spokesman told the BBC it was not a military defeat but a necessary step to protect civilians.

Right. That's what you say when ... errr, let me see ... oh yes ... when it is a military defeat.

Neocons are people that see danger everywhere and seem to crave
military solutions in all cases. They endlessly blather about how we
need to stand firm against bullies or other threats (Russia being
near the top of the list), and protect our brave allies on the front
lines, and along with them, democracy, freedom and our honor. They
mock cowardly European who think appeasement (read - any diplomacy)
might have a chance. They fuel conflicts and perpetually tout
military options.

And yet, whenever given the opportunity to stand up to their words
(and sent other people to fight, of course, they don't do that
themselves), the results are surprisingly poor.

After the catastrophic invasions and occupations of Iraq and
Afghanistan, the neocons have just lost a third war, in Georgia.

The problem here is that neither solid conservatives or true liberals have articulated and convincingly marketed a foreign policy approach, while the neocon machine has successfully marketed "national security" to some conservatives and "world police" to some liberals.

Our foreign policy seems to be following our overall governmental direction -- much effort spent in many places, resulting in a spread-too-thin solution that costs too much overall yet meets no objectives convincingly. Our IROMI (influence return on military investment) has decreased massively, yet we are still following an "attack, attack, attack" approach which we already see has negative marginal returns.

Conservative or Liberal - two brand names marketed by the same corporation. They don't care which one you buy, they make the same regardless.

Negative marginal returns? Some have made out quite handsomely - let me see now, who are they? Oh yes - the same ones who make the decisions.

What if you were in the really wealthy tribe, and already understood that there was no way to salvage the high energy lifestyle of the average Joe, and you never really gave a crap about him anyway? Think about the actions and decisions from that point of view - as if they really weren't trying to achieve anything that would work long-term, but rather to gather as much for themselves for as long as possible, and to keep ol' Average Joe in the dark so he won't notice.

The West has almost always caved to Russian military incursions. Possibly the Crimean War(1853) was an exception.

Remember Hungary 1956, Afghanistan 1989, etc.?

That is the tragedy of being Russia's neighbor. It really has very little to do with ideology.

The best we can do is let them know that the West knows what they are about, and is reluctant to deal with such an awful bully. I think it hurts their feelings as well it should. Officially they will fall back on the traditional 'Russia is encircled by enemies' slogan.

Europe and the World may need Russia's energy but the World needs to say it is dealing with a thug that doesn't respect the rule of law.

Now I'm sure there will be a lot of hollow cries about Bush and neo-cons by Putin/Russia apologists but the fact is that Russia is blatantly undermining Georgian national sovereignty with no justification--even Russia officially recognizes Georgia's national borders(it just hates its present democratically elected government and would have no problem with a stooge government).

The argument that if Bush does it then Russia is entitled to, is outrageous.

When the day comes that corporate enslavement is seen as a form of conquest equivalent to military action, the actions of American businesses and institutions under Clinton and the Bushes to crush Russia into a third-world country forever will be recognized as responsible for the premature deaths of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Russians. It wasn't "reform", it was the World Bank/IMF gang all over again. Free-market mass murder. I saw the litigation documents at a job I had in Houston involving the American carpetbaggers trying to slice up Kazakhstan's oil industry in the '90s; James Baker III, America's own Cardinal Richelieu, was prominently featured. I'm sure much of the power elite in both parties were similarly involved with Yeltsin. Naomi Klein properly labeled it as an unarmed version of what we did to Iraq.

This is exactly what Russians saw when the Czars opened their country to British exploiters a hundred years ago, including the pioneering oil field in Baku. They will react with violence again and again until we run the world diffferently. Russia is encircled by one enemy: the American corporate empire, now creaking on its infinite debts and lies.

When did hundreds of thousands, or millions, of Russians die since Stalin?

They'll stay militaristic until we run the world differently, or until they run the world?

You forgot the biggest cave in . The Soviet invasion of Poland in Sept '39 (the half the Germans didn't get).

"Right. That's what you say when ... errr, let me see ... oh yes ... when it is a military defeat."

Or Emperor Hirohito's famous remark, while announcing Japan’s surrender in 1945, "The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage".

Of course it is always unforeseen.

The BBC are reporting that Russia has sunk a Georgian boat carrying rocket launchers. Also that they have bombed the Georgian international airport.

Are Russia going to go the whole hog and neutralise any threat from Georgia (ie the US) to their security and to their energy strategy? And what is the US response, if any, going to be?

The Georgians also seem to believe the Russians are going to occupy Gori, does the pipeline run through Gori?

Just shown on BBC News: BBC camera crew directly targeted by Russian aircraft. Three missiles landed within yards of the team. No casualties reported.

Thanks to the US paranoia over uncontrolled news flow from the battlefield, after Vietnam, and their new model warfare where news becomes controlled and used for propaganda purposes, the targeted killing of unembedded news crews is now accepted practice. Check out the death toll of unembedded journalists in Iraq.

Rounding up of non-authorised combatants, incarceration without recourse and routine torture have also now become the norm thanks to the halfwitted neocons. The Russians now have cart blanche to use whatever means to achieve their ends thanks to the precedents set by the US under Bush. Fallujah may also become the roll model for dealing with intransigent cities.

Fallujah may also become the roll model for dealing with intransigent cities.

That model worked pretty well in Grozny (and My Lai, and Carthage, and doubtless many others).

Hello TODers,

AP link to naval warfare in the Black Sea:
TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Russian news agencies say the Defense Ministry is claiming to have sunk a Georgian missile boat that was trying to attack Russian navy ships in the Black Sea.

Frankly I find it very refreshing to see Russian tanks and columns of troops once again on the move. The Georgian fascists warmongers asked for it and they got it -- right up the ass. And in all probability, they'll keep right on getting it, and will be completely occupied by the Russians for some time to come. Who do the Georgians think they are? The Ossetians and the Abkhazians are ethnically and linguistically separate peoples from the Georgians, they were never part of Georgia historically, only part of the USSR -- and even more recently, in 1992, right after the USSR broke up, they kicked Georgia's ass by themselves and remained independent.
So now the scumbags in the US and Israel sent their assassians and torture trainers to Georgia and try to promote an enthic-cleansing of the Ossetia people (with probably the Abkhazians next) and big brother Russia stomps them flat. Hey, I really hope Russia doesn't let go of the pipeline. Turn it around into Ossetia and into the Russian oil grid.
What would really be even more fun would be if those morons in Washington would actually try to do something about it. Just what the US needs, another warfront.

For my part, I find it refreshing to read such a well-balanced and carefully considered appraisal of the situation.


There's a huge amount of strident pro-Russian traffic on American and British political blogs at the moment. Most of it just repeats the same few talking points (the Georgians started it, the Western media are biased, etc.). So much so that some commentators have theorized that it's part of the Russian war plan, maybe implemented through the Nashi (ostensibly non-partisan Russian ultranationalist "youth" movement). Interesting to note that the guy registered less than an hour ago (relative to this post). Don't try a start a dialog BTW - this kind of troll is mainly hit & run.

A funny thing for them to do, try to spread their message - it's not like the West is going to do a damned thing for Georgia, anyway.

I wasn't started a dialogue, I was just mocking him :)

Plucky underdog,

now if you dare to shatter your the fantasy world you have created for yourself here are 2 sources for you:

The American armed and trained Georgian army(70% of Georgian GDP = military)leveled tskhinvali with America's consent. The Russians are very smart and their will be war crimes trials in the Hague which will serve to really embarass and possibly jail not only Saak but some Americans. Also note before the Russian counter-attack Britain and USA blocked UN resolution to stop fighting, please refer to UN website.


Hi dparkins,

Joined TOD today, I see. Welcome. Hope it was worth the effort. How's the weather in Москва? Not that I'm expecting a reply, you disposable spambot, you. You probably don't get out much, anyway.

70% of Georgian GDP = military - the CIA thinks it's 0.56% - at least one out of you and they must be wrong.




despite his literary flare, it was the truth. Its a Shame you don't know enough about the situation to realize this.


I heard Yuschenko(Pro- Western Ukrainian Prez) had a nervous breakdown and is in hospital as he had troops prepared in POTI and the US/Nato troops did not show up. This is probably just rumour mill internet type of thing. However maybe Ukraine is offering concrete military support and miscalulated nato support as well. Maybe if they push too far Ukraine is next target as it has a large Russian populaiton in the east of Ukraine.

There are reports of Ukrainian dead (tank crews) in Ossetia, also possibly American (black troops) dead too. Possibly mercenaries.