Justin Raimondo Discusses South Ossetia on al-Jazeera

Eric Garris, August 18, 2008

Al-Jazeera’s report on the South Ossetia invasion and the Russian response on al-Jazeera English. The interview was conducted late last week.




26 Responses to “Justin Raimondo Discusses South Ossetia on al-Jazeera”

  1. Raimondo’s essay on Russophobia is esepcially excellently done. One would only add isolating Russia in Europe and Asia has been British Imperial policy for almost two centuries, and that it becomes a central item in American foreign policy largely through the British, and the “Anglo-American Imperialism” cryptotype, which is still strong among the Neo-Cons.

    British geopolitics was behind the Cold War, intensified and also masked by the ideological issues, but back now again in a more ideologically denatured if no less subversive form.

    It is not in US interests to be anti-Russian, whether Russia is Communist (as in World War II) or, as now, increasingly free and even “Libertarian” to some degree.

    Quite the contrary.

  2. The neo-cons are losing the propaganda war. Much like a has-been rock band, they are rerecording and remaking old hits hoping to regain popularity. Russia was a big hit for them, and it worked for over 40 years. Usually these attempts to regain popularity by recycling old hits just show the public how pathetic they are.

  3. It was only a matter of time before the old figures were exhumed.

    On her way to Brussels the United States’ premier “Sovietologist”, Secretary of State Rice, has just warned that NATO will not allow Moscow “to win in Georgia, destabilize Europe or draw a new Iron Curtain through it.”

    “Drawing a curtain through” is intriguing trope. Has Ms. Rice mixed metaphors again–confusing lowering a curtain or drawing drapes to marking a line in the sand?

    The Republican convention fast appraoches and one must give credit where credit is due: in a thousand years one would never have thought of casting John McCain as Winston Churchill.

    He has the requisite bellicosity no doubt.

    One can almost hear his acceptance speech: “We will fight them on the beach, we will fight them in the front yard, we will fight them on the stoop, we will fight them at the window pane, we will fight them in the drawing room….We will not be crucified on this cross of oil and natural gas!”

  4. I can’t see why the U.S. couldn’t have good, even friendly relations with Russia, IF ONLY the U.S. had an intelligent foreign policy. Except for the Bering Strait, both countries are separated by thousands of miles of land and water. I see no fundamental bone of contention between these two countries. What the devil do Americans care about Ossetia for? This is Stalin’s Georgia, not ours. Is it really worth antagonizing the largest country in the world with thousands of nuclear weapons and rich energy resources, just so a few busybodies in Washington can feel important? If only the USA would abandon its self-appointed world policeman role and just have a proper foreign policy, things would be so different. What do we need Georgia in Nato for? Why do we even need Nato? I would choose having good relations with Russia over Georgia any day.

  5. Yeah, well. What I don’t understand is our Western Eagerness in making promises of rearming the Georgian military. Rearm with what? And against whom exactly? Certainly not against Russia, it didn’t work out too well the first time. Against separatists controlling the nominally Georgian rebellious territories, then. So — another turn of the grinding wheel. Why is a separation off the table? Would our Dear Leaders really lose that much face?

    On a completely separate thought, could Russia itself try to become member of NATO? That would certainly make the situation interesting.

  6. Talk about rerecording: anybody notice a certain pattern of behavior repeated? Reading to a kindergarten class, attending the Olympics and having fun while the world burns according to plan. But in this case, the Bear was not hibernating as some presumed. Yet it was a good way to test our new missles against the Russain jets. We’ll need more funding for better missles and we’ll need to beef up the navy to police the globe.

  7. I’ve been trying to find information on the conditions in Ossetia prior to the Georgian invasion; everyone seems to agree that the region was autonomous, but I’ve heard conflicting reports about its political and economic viability, its record on human rights, and the intensity of its separatist movement. Can anyone point me to some sources?

  8. “British geopolitics was behind the Cold War, intensified and also masked by the ideological issues, but back now again in a more ideologically denatured if no less subversive form.”

    Tony Judt provides an outstanding analysis of the factors contributing to the outbreak of the Cold War in his phenomenal, Post War. Definitely worth the read. I’m convinced that there is still much to be taken away from Josef Stalin’s 1946 Pravda interview linked to below:

    http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/02/1st.draft/pravda.html

  9. I saw this the other day when watching al-Jazeera. I have been tuning into al-Jazeera for the past few weeks on the Georgia crisis (as it is the only international news channel available in the U.S. for free [Globecast dish]).

    I think you are doing a good job showing the other side. However, I also see a need to blame Russia who are also aggressors.

  10. I naturally wonder what the purpose is in quoting one of the biggest liars and murderers of the 20th Century.

  11. Agreed. Georgia and Russia both have a lot to answer for, regardless of who is in the right about Ossetian self-determination.

  12. Russians in general have a bad attitude toward Georgians becasue of Stalin and Beria, Stalin’s executor–they feel that s small Georgian clique dominated and ruined their country. On the other hand, the Ossestians (or rather Ironysts or Iraetae, why do we use the Georgian term?) and Georgians have been fighting for a few millenia (the case for underpopulated Abkhazia remains much more gray if not just plain confusing). The Russians and Ossetains have been allied since the Mongol ivasions of the 11th century. Anyway, it’s all about NATO. The Russians don’t want to be ringed by American ICBM missiles. When the North Pole ice cap completely melts in a couple of years, the Russians will be vulnerable to Northern attacks by sea. They are feeling a bit insecure and their army wants a small win. They now have their missiles aimed at Tblisi in retaliation. Much of this was an intelligence war that Georgia lost with poorly executed plans and soldiers who fled before overwhelming force. We get to analyze their army’s shortcomings, which were not as severe as we had thought. They’ve learned a few things from their Chechen war. I just hate to see people suffer for the silly and incompetant games of politicians. That neighborhood is their backyard and they don’t want America playing there. But there’s a lot of silly talk that leads us down the path of WWIII. There are about 20 or 30 thousand Ossetians in that area. There are less than 200, 000 Abkhazians. ome of the hysteria was about the oil and gas pipeline–the Russians want to demonstrate that they can cut it at any time, which helps drive up the price of oil, their main export. Although they are aggressive in that neighborhood, why should we support incompetance and foolishness? I really don’t think anyone wants a renewal of a Georgian empire.

  13. Agreed. But I don’t see why this should involve America anymore then Argentina.

  14. Well, I suppose the realist argument is that US political and military interests are at stake, and the moral argument is that the US has some influence over both Russia and Georgia (however tenuous in the former’s case) that it might use to prod them in the right direction…whatever that turns out to be. Argentina (I assume) has little or no interest in the region, and couldn’t influence anybody there if it tried. Of course, if you’re an isolationist-and you shouldn’t be-none of that will move you even if it’s true. And even if the US has good reasons to interfere, that doesn’t mean it won’t screw it up completely (or hasn’t already).

  15. Both the idealist and realist case for intervention in S. Ossetia are wrong.

    The idealist/moral case is that we should fight against Russian “aggression.” As readers of this blog and this website know, Russia is far from the only aggressor in this case. S. Ossetia, morally speaking, should have had the right to secession with Abkhazia in 1991 – and diplomatic negotiations (such as what was done with Abjara) would have been the way to go for achieving some kind of deal on the province. I don’t see the moral case for intervening on the side of Georgia (or Russia) and there are a long list of sins on both the Georgian and Russian sides. Russia also provoked Georgia for the past few months on S. Ossetia.

    The realist case is that we should fight against Russian expansion and for U.S. interests. There are no U.S. interests however in Georgia. Even if Russia occupied Georgia it would not give it a substantial increase in power. Russia’s GDP is 1/13th of the U.S.’s and 1/16th of the combined GDP of all EU countries. Even with China added as an ally, both are regional powers at best. A true “multipolar world” is not truly emerging, at least right now, and has been exaggerated.

    If Russian aggression had reached into Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, and was going on without resistance – then the realists might have an argument. But the fact of the matter is that Russia is not a potential aggressive hegemon, and preventative war with Russia would be an enormous counterproductive disaster. Putin is no Hitler.

    Both cases for American intervention, moral and realist, are off. And although both camps of international relations (such as liberal internationalist Michael Walzer and neoconservative Bob Kagan on the “moral, idealist” side and Zbigniew Brzezinski on the realist side) have been cheer leading for U.S. intervention, they are off course, both strategically and morally.

  16. I agree Andy. And the Russians would be open to better relations. But the neocons need a new enemy.

  17. :-) :-)

    Yes, soon we’ll be “standing firm”.

  18. Again, fundamentally I agree with you, although deciphering what interests the US has in the region is more tricky than you make out. NATO is an important organization strategically, no less so within Russia’s sphere of influence. I don’t pretend to know what benefits the US alliance with Georgia affords, but if there are no interests in play, it makes US behavior look darn near irrational.

    I’m not ruling that out, mind you, but note how much isn’t at stake for the US. We send some aid, we make some noise, we tell Russia ‘we don’t want to play with you anymore,” and life goes on. Nobody’s starting a war between major powers just yet, and what we’re sending Georgia is a drop on the bucket, comparatively speaking.

    Plus, as you point out, the US gets to play the ‘international community’ card, which looks good to everybody but China, and which should have started looking like a lifeline to the US a few years back, when we all started catching on to the fact that American ‘hegemony’ was slipping, and ultimately doomed. I agree the world isn’t, and never was as multipolar as it started looking in the ’90s. Butif international pressure can be used to keep Russia from violating non-intervention norms any more than they already have, that’s not a bad thing.

  19. The United States bussiness’s is war,its economy is an economy of wars,and its products are wars.Therefore,enemies have always to be found.When the so called “Islamo-facism” didn’t materlise a new,or old for that matter, more convencing enemy has to invented or resurrected!

  20. has to be invented or be resurrected!

  21. All this American saber rattling in that region is part of an impotent global strategy to prevent the inevitable – the rise of China as the world’s next superpower. Russia is sparsely populated but blessed with enormous natural resources, far in excess of its domestic needs. China has a huge population, is industrializing very rapidly and is ravenous for every raw material imaginable. It’s obvious that Russia will be China’s major mineral, energy and timber supplier. It’s also obvious that Russia will be exporting its advanced weapons technology to China as well. The two are natural partners in countering the American hegemon.

    The American long range strategy is to get control of Russia’s natural wealth in order to limit China’s access to it, not to mention to enrich politically connected U.S. corporations. The best way to accomplish that would be for Russia to mimic Yugoslavia and fracture into many statelets, each vulnerable to an American embrace. This could be provoked by covertly encouraging an economic meltdown via financial machinations such as during the Yeltsin era. Or by covertly financing secessionist puppet political movements lusting for power. Arming and inviting former Soviet republics into NATO is a means of applying pressure on Russia’s borders as well as justifying the continued existence of this obsolete military institution. And, of course, we mustn’t overlook the financial collateral benefits of such national global ambitions to the well connected. Bankers will collect their fat fees, the elites’ will advance their careers, bonuses will be ladled out and military contractors will continue to gorge themselves on no bid contracts, all at taxpayers expense.

    The Achilles’ heel of this imperial fantasy is America’s own economic meltdown now underway. Empires are built by productive nations on the way up, not by indebted beggars in a tailspin. Russia and China are two of America’s major creditors. It is “generosity” such as their’s that’s financing America’s ruinous criminal enterprise in Iraq. Why would they want to finance their own ruin too?

  22. Is it an axiom that Stalin is only bad? At least from my Russian point of view, the only reason why Russia was not nuked, and why it is not nuked now – is due to The Weapon that he managed to give to country.

    Now, the world at large can say thank you to Stalin for 45 years of global peace (1945-1990), while the US Imperial ambitions were contained.

    So – Stalin’s bad deeds are long gone, his good deeds are still with us.

    Well, not quite, his geopolitical creativity in slicing territories and creating countries that give much trouble is not a good legacy, but it is not pure evil – most notably Israel and Georgia would not exist without his involvement.

    Contrast that to Hitler – I can’t think of any good legacy from him. That includes of course genocide of Jews, which is bad on both humanitarian and political (Zionism fuel and justification) counts.

    That article by Stalin is VERY reasonable. It is so reasonable, contradicts completely with later Communist Party of USSR line. Basically, very short – “We don’t care about these territories, we don’t want them to be used as a base for next aggression against Russia. Capitalism or Communism these – is secondary to the military concerns.

    That is so true – look at Finland that decided to not engage in being anti-Russian base – and lives quite nicely, not even member of NATO….

    And every Russian can sign under that Stalin’s idea – “We don’t care about these territories, but West shall not dare to make them base for aggresson – AGAIN!”

  23. Just wanted to let you know that supposedly – Stalin’s father was Osetian.

    (BTW – one good example of US/UK arrogance – is is only ONE letter S in Osetia. Also, is it not Moscow, but in fact Moskva. Do we care? Not that much. But the new “non-states” like Estonia is making a very big point that their capital name – in Russian – should be written something like Tallinn (or some such nonsense, inconsistent with Russian language), whereas it was always written Tallin before. I’m so upset to see that even spell checker in Mozilla insists it is 2 ns. This is one good example of WHAT RUSSIANS ARE FED UP WITH. And if need be nuclear war is a good way to stop this humiliation :-)

  24. The most important point that came out of Justin Raimondo’s analysis of the media coverage of the South Ossetian conflict is that a propaganda or media war is an adjunct to every war. Every war also brings up epistemological issues. In other words, we always see a war through a certain filter or lens. We never see a war without this lens or filter. And filters and lens distort reality. This is an important point.

    In every war, there is an issue of reality control and perception management. CNN and Fox News in the US sought to portray or present the war as “aggression” or an “invasion” by Russia. In fact, it was Georgia that invaded the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which has been de facto independent since 1992. Which view is correct and the “truth”? It depends on which paradigm or lens you use.

    The first paradigm is: Georgia is a sovereign country that has UN recognized borders. Based on this assumption, Georgia can do no wrong. Everything it does will be legitimate and legal. Georgian troops can murder 200,000 Russian civilians or 2,000 South Ossetians and that will be seen as legitimate because Georgia was safeguarding its UN recognized borders. This is the paradigm the US media used, following the marching orders of the US Government and US State Department. The US government tells the US media what paradigm they must follow. In this regard, US media is state-run or state-controlled media.

    Of course, the US did not apply this paradigm to Serbia. Serbia too is a sovereign nation that has UN recognized borders. But then why did the US dismember Kosovo and detach it from Serbia outside of the UN and international law? Based on the UN and international law, what the US diod was illegal and against international law.

    The issue here is: Who gets to decide? The US gets to decide these matters. It is selective. The US can arbitrarily and subjectively decide what is legal, legitimate, and adheres to international law. In other words, the US is the “international community”. This is a bit of a smokescreen but the US can get away with it because it has the largest army in the world and controls all media.

    The second paradigm is: Georgia committed an act of aggression by launching a planned war against Russian peacekeepers in a region with de facto independence and an international peacekeeping mission. Like Kosovo, the South Ossetians should be allowed to vote in a democratic referendum on whether they want to be independent. Moreover, the principles of self-determination apply to South Ossetia. Of course, the US Government rejects this paradigm vis a vis South Ossetia but accepts it vis a vis Kosovo. The US is just applying an arbitrary standard based on whether the parties are proxies or adversaries. The US applies one paradigm to Albanian Muslim separatists and another one to Ossetian Christian separatists. The scenarios are identical. But in one case the parties are proxies and in the other they are adversaries.

    There is no critical media literacy in the US. This is because the corporate and military and political interests in the US want to keep Americans dumb and stupid, walking zombies. This is for obvious reasons. People must be out buying all sorts of things they do not need, they must rush to the next movie blockbuster, and they must support the latest US “humanitarian intervention” to save mankind.

    What struck me about this presentation is the comment about Joseph Goebbels and propaganda techniques. What the “expert” neglected to mention about Goebbels is that the Nazi propaganda machine was based on American models. Goebbels based much of his propaganda techniques on the pioneering work of American Edward Bernays. In fact, Goebbels studied Berenay’s books on propaganda and had at least one on his shelves. Not many Americans know that Joseph Goebbels based his propaganda techniques on US media persuasion techniques developed by Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann. That is a fact we subconsciously reject and repress and deny.

    All wars entail propaganda and media wars because all wars present epistemological issues. How we see a war depends on the lens we use. And all lenses distort and alter reality.

  25. I think everyone here understands the point about the media… Although it’s turning out that Russia’s body count for the Georgian invasion was too high by an order of magnitude. But the ‘Westphalian’ conception of absolute state sovereignty is falling by the wayside even in international law. It’s true that the US is hypocritical and ambivalent regarding it’s respect for international legal institutions… but it is a remarkably parochial mistake to claim that the US “is” the international community, or that community’s only or primary agent. Most states cannot afford to flout key international agreements in the ways that the US, Russia, and China can, and not because the US will punish them if they do. Given that America’s status as sole superpower is dwindling, it’s becoming more apparent that its interests lie in ensuring the strength of those relatively independent institutions. The more China, Russia, and India can be tied into the international community, the better chance the US (and everybody else) has of not getting stepped on by re-ascendant economic and military competitors.

  26. Vassili,

    What is all too frequently forgotten in the West is that Stalin doesn’t stand apart from history like some mummified object, suspended in time, To the contrary, his attitudes were, in part, the consequence of a long history of Russia’s dealing with the West, not to exclude the adventurism of the Allies following Brest Litovsk. And who could forget the arrogance with which the Soviet Union was treated during and immediately following the Czech crisis in 1938. If memory serves, it was a lower level negotiating team that Great Britain sent to Moscow in 1939 to cut a deal with Stalin regarding Germany. Hitler sent Ribbentrop, his Foreign Minister. These faux paus were not forgotten.