Day: August 20, 2008

Cliché Diplomacy: "Peace through Speech"

From: The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. []
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 5:19 AM
Subject: Cliché Diplomacy: “Peace Through Speech” (Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Redstate, August 19, 2008 )
Cliché Diplomacy: “Peace Through Speech”
Posted by: Rep. Thaddeus McCotter
Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 04:00AM

In wake of revanchist Russia’s invasion of Georgia, a sovereign democracy allied with the United States and Europe, the stunned Bush administration’s response to this failure of “quiet diplomacy” and “engagement” policy with Comrade Putin – he of the soulful eyes – was initially one of stammered clichés, each of which is revelatory, juvenile and injurious.

Consequently, to further the cause of liberty and security, we are compelled to dispel the clichés fostering the failed policy of “peace through speech”; reassert the doctrine of “peace through strength”; and advance concrete actions to punish Russia for invading Georgia.

Regarding the clichés, first let us dispense with “Democracies don’t attack democracies.” Though belied by the War of 1812 (as but one example), this canard persisted until it came to rest in pieces beneath the boot heels of Georgia’s Russian invaders.

Next, we must refute how “This type of aggression is unacceptable in the 21st Century.” Excuse me, but welcome to the “end of the end of history”! It is insane to presume an arbitrary millennial date prevents nations from using force to attain perceived gains. For years it has been evident Comrade Putin disagrees with this false assumption; thus, who could be shocked this inanity has gained as little credence in Moscow as the Kellogg-Briand Pact once gained in Berlin?

Finally, let us end the myth aggressor nations measure their “international standing” in the same vein as do western democracies. Russia does not seek to be liked. Russia seeks to be feared. In sum, through intimidation and coercion Russia seeks what it cannot accomplish through cooperation and negotiation – the political subordination of central and eastern Europe’s sovereign, U.S. allied democracies within what Russia deems its “near abroad.” To gain this end, Russia invaded Georgia. In making this decision, Comrade Putin anticipated “The West’s” tepid words; and Comrade Putin didn’t give a damn. In fact, he was counting on them to bolster both his own domestic power within Russia and his nation’s external power over central and eastern European nations, who would be less than reassured by a weak-kneed US and EU response. (No doubt, too, Comrade Putin is laughing hysterically over some “sophisticated” foreign policy “experts” claiming the West’s harsh rhetoric will only inflame the situation. It looks like the Left hasn’t lost its “cold war” mindset, either!)

Frankly, the above clichés reveal the rot within both the administration’s and the Republican Party’s present foreign policy. Conflating the truth of Reagan’s dictum of “peace through strength” with the hope of “peace through speech”, the GOP has forgotten that words won’t stop tanks.

But “peace through strength” will. Nations must know pursing strategic aims through aggressive measures will cause them more harm than good. Then, if an aggressor nation miscalculates and strikes regardless, the harm to the aggressor nation must swiftly and surely outweigh its coveted benefits.

Therefore, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, individually and collectively the United States and our allies must:

Ensure the removal of all Russian troops, weapons, and intelligence officers from Georgian soil.

Secure Russian reparations for the damages incurred by Georgia due to this illegal invasion.

Invite Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to address a joint session of the United States Congress and reaffirm the bond of solidarity between the free peoples of our democracies.

Offer a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and the Ukraine.

Suspend high-level NATO-Russia Council (NRC) meetings until all Russian troops, weapons, and intelligence officers are removed from Georgian soil; and Russian reparations for the damages incurred by Georgia due to this illegal invasion are tendered.

Authorize Georgia, Ukraine, and all non-NATO central and eastern European allies to receive the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) the same preferential treatment as NATO+3 (Australia, Japan, and New Zeeland).

Authorize large-scale Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance to central and eastern European NATO allies.

Accelerate European Union accession and partnership negotiations with Ukraine and Georgia.

Bar Russia from the G-8 until all Russian troops, weapons, and intelligence officers are removed from Georgian soil; and Russian reparations for the damages incurred by Georgia due to this illegal invasion are tendered.

Refuse consideration of Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) until all Russian troops, weapons, and intelligence officers are removed from Georgian soil; and Russian reparations for the damages incurred by Georgia due to this illegal invasion are tendered.

End Russia’s PNTR status and further sanction Russia with Column Two Tariffs until all Russian troops, weapons, and intelligence officers are removed from Georgian soil; and Russian reparations for the damages incurred by Georgia due to this illegal invasion are tendered.

Provide the Economic Support Funding (ESF) to Georgia to repair their infrastructure, which will be repaid by Russian reparations for the damages incurred by Georgia due to this illegal invasion.

Reauthorize programs under the Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act.

Assert that continued, large-scale, organized cyber attacks constitute an act of aggression.

Direct the Department of Interior’s United States Board of Geographic Names to refer to the Kuril Islands by their Japanese name.

Call upon the International Olympic Committee to relocate the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, to a non-aggressor nation.

Well, there I go again, revealing my “cold war” mentality. Maybe the “peace through speech” sophisticates are right. Let’s pass some vapid resolutions accusing Russia of not being an international team player; importune Comrade Putin to return the soul behind his eyes to its rightful owner; and hope this rabid bear is coaxed back into hibernation.

Still, one must wonder if the Georgian people would appreciate the irony that our quiet diplomacy is premised upon loud publicity not their pained reality?

Karl Altau
Managing Director
Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc.
400 Hurley Avenue
Rockville, MD  20850
tel. 301-340-1954
fax 301-309-1406
Estonian American National Council, Inc.
American Latvian Association, Inc.
Lithuanian American Council, Inc.

Timeline of Events in Georgia, August 19-20

Timeline of Events in the
Russians Invasion & Occupation of Georgia
As of 18:30, August 20, 2008
The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge,
but is subject to verification.


18:30 Russians drop fire-setting bombs 10 Km from Tbilisi
• In Kiketi, 10 km from Tbilisi, Russian military aircrafts drop fire-setting bombs, the forest in burning.

16:00 Russians occupy village in Chkhorotsku district, Samegrelo region, western Georgia
• Russians enter village Chogha of Chkhorotsku district, Samegrelo region, with armored vehicles and start digging the trenches.

15:30 Russians make checkpoint in the entrance of Poti.

14:00 Houses in Gori district burning
• Houses in village Dzevera in Gori district are burning. Besides, the Boshuri forest is also burning and the villages Bisi and Bobnevi are under danger.

13:00 Russian militaries try to prevent Matyas Eorsi from entering Gori
• Representative of the Council of Europe Matyas Eorsi is prevented by Russian militaries from entering Gori. After long dispute he entered the city, and was stopped again on his way back.

12:00 Governor of Shida Kartli arrested
• Representative of President-Governor of Shida Kartli Lado Vardzelashvili is arrested by Russian militaries at one of illegal Russian checkpoints as he was trying to release the trucks with humanitarian aid to the population of Gori district. He was released from detention after two hours.

Russian militaries do not allow the trucks with humanitarian aid to enter village Karaleti in Gori district.

11:00 Russian militaries occupy village in Sachkhere district, Imereti region, western Georgia
• Russian militaries occupy the village of Perevi, Sachkhere district, Imereti region. Over 50 Russian soldiers and three tanks are stationed there. It is reported that aggressors urge the population to get out of their houses and flee the village.


14:50 Russian troops started movement from Gomi in Sachkhere direction. Local population blocked the road.

13:50 Russian militaries lead Georgian POWs and US owned Hummers to Senaki from Poti
• Russian troops are observed half an hour ago leading 6 blindfolded Georgian POWs and six US owned Hummers to the military base in Senaki from Poti. Hummers belonging to American military participated in US-Georgian military exercise “Immediate Response 2008” held in Georgia on 15th-31st of July 2008.

12:30 Russians block re-launch of West-East traffic
• On the railroad in Gomi, 100 kms from Tbilisi, Russians loaded blocks of concrete on rails, thus creating another obstacle for re-launch of West-East traffic.

09:00 Russia closes border with Azerbaijan and Georgia
• According today’s Russian media, Government of Russia closed borders with Azerbaijan and Georgia for foreigners, except CIS citizens. Decree from 12th of August №592, was signed by Prime Minister Putin.

01:00 Russian militaries capture Georgian soldiers in Poti
• 20 Georgian servicemen enter Poti for protection of the commercial port. At 08:30 Russian militaries enter the port, disarm Georgian soldiers and captur them.

The Stockholm speech

It’s now starting to be time for all the Western commentators, the op-ed writers, journalists, political analysts, academics, businesspeople and sundry Kremlinologists who acclaimed the “New Russia” that supposedly emerged after the fall of Communism to publicly admit that they were wrong – that what really took place was a co-ordinated attempt at a gross deception intended  by a cynical post-Soviet elite to make the world believe in a manifest falsehood. There were reasons for this willingness to be duped. The liberated nations of Eastern Europe, the states of Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were genuinely liberated, able to begin the return to the democratic traditions of their pre-1939 existence, and many people in the West rightly greeted this with relief. In Russia, however, no such return took place, for the simple reason that there had never been any democratic traditions in Russia to begin with. A euphoric mood of “let’s make believe” took hold of many Western observers of the Russian political scene.

Yet if they took a closer look, they could see that in essence nothing had really changed in the halls of power within the Kremlin. Sixteen years ago, on December 14 1992, Andrei Kozyrev, the foreign minister of the newly-fledged Russian “successor state”, made a speech in Stockholm – in connection with the then newly developing Balkan crisis – which outlined the true nature of Russia’s foreign policy. Though Kozyrev treated his audience to a theatrical turnaround in which he claimed that his statement was a “rhetorical device”, intended to show the power of those who opposed the supposedly “liberal” tendency of the new government, experienced observers realized what was afoot. The speech went as follows:

I am obliged to introduce corrections in the general direction of Russian foreign policy. I wish to inform you briefly about these to the extent that they concern CSCE problems.

First: While fully maintaining the policy of entry into Europe, we clearly recognize that our traditions in many respects, if not fundamentally, lie in Asia, and this sets limits to our rapprochement with Western Europe.

We see that, despite a certain degree of evolution, the strategies of NATO and the WEU, which are drawing up plans to strengthen their military presence in the Baltic and other regions of the territory of the former Soviet Union and to interfere in Bosnia and the internal affairs of Yugoslavia, remain essentially unchanged.

Clearly, sanctions against the FRY were dictated by this policy. We demand that they be lifted, and if this does not happen, we reserve our right to take the necessary unilateral measures to defend our interests, especially since the sanctions cause us economic harm. In its struggle, the present Government of Serbia can count on the support of the great Russia.

Second: The space of the former Soviet Union cannot be regarded as a zone of full application of CSCE norms. In essence, this is a post-imperial space, in which Russia has to defend its interests using all available means, including military and economic ones. We shall strongly insist that the former USSR Republics join without delay the new Federation or Confederation, and there will be tough talks on this matter.

Third: All those who think that they can disregard these particularities and interests – that Russia will suffer the fate of the Soviet Union – should not forget that we are talking of a state that is capable of standing up for itself and its friends. We are, of course, ready to play a constructive part in the work of the CSCE Council, although we shall be very cautious in our approach to ideas leading to interference in internal affairs.

It’s time now to go back to the history of those early years of the Yeltsin government and to discover what really happened in them.

A Russian threat to Israel

The Jerusalem Post writes that

Syrian President Bashar Assad has pledged to support Russia in its conflict with Georgia and said that Damascus was ready to consider deploying Russian Iskander missile systems in its territory, in response to the US missile shield in Europe.

Assad made the comments in an interview for Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, on the eve of his official visit to Sochi for discussions with Medvedev.

Chechens sympathize with Georgia

Prague Watchdog’s Ramzan Akhmadov discusses Chechen reactions to Russia’s invasion of Georgia, and interviews some Chechen citizens:

“…The Georgians must be constantly alert, because they can expect a stab in the back at any moment. In 1997 people also believed that the Kremlin was sincere, when Yeltsin and Maskhadov signed a peace agreement. And what happened next?” asks a former deputy of the parliament of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“I have no doubt that the Russian media will now do its best to create an image of Georgians as enemies of Russia. They’ll do it all with the same methods as they used on us Chechens. A mass zombification of the public at large, the preparing of public opinion, perhaps one or two bloody terrorist attacks with a lot of human victims, which will of course be carried out by “persons of Georgian nationality”, and Russia will once again enthusiastically respond to an incendiary call to ‘wipe out the terrorists in the toilet’”, he says with conviction. “The Kremlin will seek at any cost to overthrow the regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, who is stubborn enough to lead his country into NATO, and they’ll put their puppet in Tbilisi. And there’s a suitable candidate to hand – an ‘opposition figure’ who’s been kept warm by Moscow, Igor Giorgadze, Putin’s colleague in the KGB. In my view, some serious ordeals await Georgia in the near future. Very serious ones,” he says. (my tr.)

Read the whole thing here.

The courage to resist

In his op-ed column published in the Washington Post today, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Michael Gerson makes some profoundly reasonable points about the negative results for Russia’s reputation and international standing as a result of its aggression in Georgia. Above all, he is right to point to our own duty in the West to support Georgia and its people, and not to cast blame on ourselves:

The worst option would be to excuse Russia by blaming ourselves. NATO expansion did not cause Russian belligerence. The desire to be part of NATO in liberated Europe was fueled, in part, by a justified fear of Russian belligerence. Citizens of the Baltic states, for example, are now glad that NATO expanded with relative speed, or they might be next on Putin’s list. Again and again in European history, there has been a temptation to sacrifice the freedom of small countries to the interests of great powers. And it generally hasn’t worked out very well, for them or for us.

Georgia has been foolish. But Russia’s crude overreach has had one good effect — revealing the courage of others. Poland has quickly upgraded its relations with America, even under nuclear threat from Russia. Ukraine has been defiant, even though Russia still makes claims on Crimea. These nations have recent memories of Russian national “pride.” And their courage should provoke our own.

Prague, August 20-21, 1968

Today and tomorrow mark the 40th anniversary of the Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt has a commemorative post on his weblog. Excerpt (my tr.):

And just after midnight it all began. Soviet special troops took over the airport. In surged the rumbling Antonovs carrying the airborne detachments, guided by the plane that had parked on the edge of the field.

The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia – Operation Donau to the Soviet staffs – had started.

But 40 years ago it was still just the twentieth of August.

And most of Europe was enjoying the summer, sleeping or relaxing.

The calm before the tragedy.

Asmus on NATO

In the Wall Street Journal, Transatlantic Center director Ronald D. Asmus discusses new practical steps that NATO can make in the changed geostrategic situation that now exists in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Georgia. Now that the “confidence-building steps” towards Russia which have guided the Alliance’s Central Europe policy in recent years are plainly no longer necessary or desirable, he notes that

Since the Alliance began enlarging a decade ago, it has not conducted any defense planning against a possible Russian military threat to new members in Central and Eastern Europe or the Baltic states. We have unilaterally refrained from such steps partly as a confidence-building step toward Russia. New members have complained bitterly about this. It is why the Alliance is seen by many in the region as hollow. It is time to take this step as a prudent part of Alliance defense planning.

Asmus sees the future direction of NATO policy and practice in a stiffening of the Alliance’s security guarantees to existing members by putting into place in the new member states “the infrastructure, reinforcement capabilities and symbolic deployments we are fully entitled to as a stabilizing and confidence-building measure for new allies.”

NATO also needs to reassure those partners likely to be the next targets of Russian pressure and possible aggression, first and foremost Ukraine. This means rethinking NATO’s enlargement strategy. In the mid-1990s, NATO adopted an enlargement strategy based on integration and not as a strategic response to Russia. We consciously raised the bar and requirements for new members. Our focus was less on protection than on democratic reforms to help anchor these countries to the West. But we also consciously left ourselves the option of lowering the bar in the future if the security environment took a turn for the worse. It now has done just that, and we need to shift our criteria again.

The whole article can be read here.

Ukraine and Georgia

In the Independent, Askold Krushelnycky writes about how President Yushchenko

went to Tbilisi to show support for Georgia, ordered restrictive new regulations for the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, and offered Ukrainian co-operation in a Western missile defence system despite the knowledge that neighbouring Poland received a chilling warning from Russia for agreeing to allow deployment on its territory of elements of the US missile defence shield. For the first time since independence, Ukrainian television has aired discussion of possible conflict with Russia and even politicians considered to be pro-Moscow have begun warning that Ukraine could be next in the firing line.

Sarkozy became a messenger of Moscow’s coercion

Jamestown’s Vladimir Socor has an analysis of the method by which Moscow has already succeeded in invalidating the six-point French-brokered peace plan, and pinpoints President Sarkozy as the initiator of this process. A couple of brief excerpts from a long and carefully researched study:

Russia has junked the six-point agreement in the traditional way of Russian and Soviet diplomacy in Europe’s East: It eviscerates an international agreement of its content while preserving its carcass for continuing reference to excuse Kremlin actions.


The Georgians yielded to Sarkozy’s argument that failure to sign the document would immediately trigger the occupation of Tbilisi by Russian troops. By descending on Tbilisi with this argument straight from his tete-a-tete with Medvedev, the French president became in effect a messenger of Russian coercion of Georgia.