Sunday, August 10, 2008


Over at Rangeragainstwar my man Ranger and his mucker Lisa (who moonlights as the lovely and gracious Tenth Muse - "Informia, the Muse of Politics") have a good post highlighting the disconnect between the sorts of good things the Bushies say and the sorts of foolish and destructive things they do, or that occur because of their words and/or actions.

It struck me Friday as I was watching our Chief Executive watch the athletes' parade into the Olympic stadium in Beijing that this may be the salient feature of this administration. Long after the feeble attempts at despotism, the torture, the costly and interminable wars started with no strategic objectives and prosecuted with no geopolitical plans, the corruption and the lies are forgotten I am convinced that what people will remember about Dubya and his bobos are their incompetence. That these people are just plain bad at running a modern state; not just bad but bad in the way a New Guinea headhunter would be bad at piloting a 737.This almost preternatural incompetence is on display right now in the Caucasus, where our old "ally", Russia, (the one where George looked into his buddy Vladi Putin's heart and found him to be Russia's Tom Jefferson, remember?) is pounding the piss out of our "new" "ally", Georgia over a place called "South Ossetia".

Our relationship with Georgia is a textbook Bush foreign policy fuckup. Here's a place that's basically a kleptocracy, marginally stable with a lot of "failed state" characteristics perched perilously in the ex-Soviet "near abroad", the southern and southeastern rind of Caucasian and Central Asian states ravished by the Russians in the mid- to late-19th Century that as Soviets and now as "Russians" again the rulers in Moscow wish to retain or regain. Its leader, a man named Saakashvili, appears to be almost as incompetent as his pal Dubya, and this is NOT a part of the world where its good to be a fool.

The fool appears to have tried to take advantage of Putin's visit to Beijing and the traditional Russian August holiday to move a conventional force into South Ossetia, a former-Soviet, former-Georgian, semi-criminal entity that has been defying him for some time.

This MIGHT have worked, in the same way that Dubya's Middle East wars "worked", if it had been done intelligently AND if the West and the U.S. had been willing to carry Saakashvili's water. It wasn't, they/we weren't, and now Georgia is in serious trouble. They have pulled their brigade from Diyala Province in Iraq (a fairly troublesome loss to MNF-I), they look to get hammered perhaps even to the point of capitulation and reabsorbtion into Russia, and they are loudly and publicly blaming us for their problems.

And, frankly, they have a point.

An administration run by adults would have treated these guys like a party girl with open sores. We have no real influence with the Russians, particularly in their former Soviet near abroad, and should have made this clear to the Georgians. We also should have reminded them that while they can make kissy-kissy with the eagle they sleep in the cave with the bear: the smart thing to do is NOT slap the bear in the nuts if you can't kill it.

But no: we've been feeding these guys military advisors and political support. If we knew that they were going to try a South Ossetian coup de main (and given the U.S. Army Georgian advisory mission my guess is that either a) we did, and didn't get the word out in time or b) we didn't and as such being further proof that our Central Asian intelligence couldn't find an elephant if it was in the room with them pissing on their heads) and we didn't immediately advise them of what a bad idea that was we were kidding either ourelves or them or both. My guess is that we did know - but because of their willingness to be "The Willing" (as in coalition of) we let them slide; just another example of the Bushies fucking "phony war on terror" blinders forcing us into dumb geopolitical postures to advance this idiotic crusade. There was a Children's Crusade; can we call this the "Crusade of the Childishly Stupid"?

Anyway, the handwriting looks like its on the wall; our Georgian "ally" is going down hard and is going to publicly blame this Administration for a Vietnam- or 1956 Hungarian-style desertion. We will have pointlessly antagonized the Russians, made our other Central Allies nervous, and have spent a little more economic and political capital for nothing.It's worth recalling that history isn't kind to even well-intentioned losers, never mind venal, egotistic, delusional losers. Stalin is a nightmare out of history; a murderous, savage animal - but nobody looks at Stalin and pities him in the condescendng way we look at Kerensky. Mao is another of history's horrors, but no one looks at him with his millions of victims and shakes his head ruefully with the comment "What a fucking tool, what a dumbass loser, what a maroon..." the way we think of his old enemy Chang Kai-shek.

Napoleon strides through the early Nineteenth Century like a bloodyhanded butcher and a tyrant, and yet we respect him in a way we don't his predecessor Louis XVI, whose combination of arrogance and ignorance managed to lose him a dynasty and a nation in less than twenty years.

It'd be enough to make you laugh if it wasn't enough to make you weep.

Anyway, at this rate Dubya is going to be lucky if he ends up remembered as a lesser fool than Nicky Romanov, Maximilian of Mexico or our own James Buchanan.And, of course, the really unlucky ones are the rest of us; the "little people" who will pay with our youth, our hopes or our lives for his foolery.

Update 8/11: Apparently the poor fools in Georgia thought that Dubya was Iron Man:
"In other news, the Georgians appear to be displeased at the lack of a more forceful American response. This, as much as anything, gives an indication as to what Georgia thought it was buying with its Iraq deployment: As a Russian jet bombed fields around his village, Djimali Avago, a Georgian farmer, asked me: “Why won’t America and Nato help us? If they won’t help us now, why did we help them in Iraq?”
Because you can fool some of the people all of the time...


sheerahkahn said...

I don't know Chief, as I follow this situation, I'm thinking the Russians are going go for the throat, ie, Georgia's throat.
The Ossettia is just a pretext for them, and Russia is seizing that pretext to rein in a recaltriant former Soviet satellite that gave the Russians the heave ho back when.

As for Dubya...pfft, he was in over his head long before this, and Putin knew it. I would liken the meeting between Bush and Putin like this...

Bush: I looked into his eyes, and I saw a kindred spirit.

Putin: I looked into his eyes, and I struggled to choke down my evil, demonic laugh.

I think Georgia will now become a defacto satellite state of Russia, with an "approved" Russian government that is "friendly" to Russian interests, and will toe the Russian "doctrinal" line of "Know Thy Place!"

My prediction, a resurgent USSR...welcome back to the Cold War...this time, with a very well educated, and motivated Russia.

Lisa said...

"the costly and interminable wars started with no strategic objectives and prosecuted with no geopolitical plans. . . bad in the way a New Guinea headhunter would be bad at piloting a 737"

Your words fillet the situation. The 2nd Children's Crusade, led by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Feh.

But..."mucker"? Hmmm... perhaps one sees a mucker, and one a muse(!)

FDChief said...

Lisa: "mucker" is an old GI term for your best buddy, your pal, the guy who looked out for you when the going got nasty. You and your mucker shared your C-rats, your smokes, your cash when one of you was short, your troubles and your happy times. You and Ranger are battle buddies over at RAW, but I've always liked the older term better.

And, I might add, it is nice when your mucker looks and smells nicer than you do!

Lisa said...

Ah...thank you. Now I know.

Ael said...

I don't think Russia wants to (or even needs to) take over Georgia a la Hungary, 1956.

I suspect that the Russians will ensure that all Georgian soldiers are forced out of Ossetia and Abkhasia.

They will take away all of Saakashvili's shiny new olive drab toys and force a promise that he won't ever ever attack the two enclaves again.

Who needs all the hassle of putting down the inevitable Georgian uprising.
The Ossetians want the Russians there.

Furthermore, now that the Russians have displayed their sharp claws,
they will also be taken much more seriously in the future.

Their desires were pretty much ignored in Kosovo and the missile defense decisions. The bushites have just had a rude awakening as to how little influence they have in large chunks of the world.

Alas, it also means that all the Georgian refugees from Ossetia and Abkhasia (caused by the war in the 1990's) will not be able to go home anytime soon.

basilbeast said...

ael brings up a good point, the missile batteries in Europe that Putin fussed over.

Why were they to be installed?

And McCain, with his campaign man Sheuneman representing Georgia as a lobbyist, demanding Russia be kicked out of the G8, that they withdraw.

Now our major candidate for the presidency is a tool of a foreign country, his own campaign manager's client?

What a country!


rangeragainstwar said...

And exactly what is it the U.S. could do in this situation, other than talk and condemn? NATO is irrelevant to the issue, as is the U.N. (Gee, imagine the effectiveness of a U.N. embargo.) BTW, condemnation of Russia will also serve as a condemnation of the invasion of Iraq.

However, the Russian action has the legitimacy of securing their borders, a reason lacking in the U.S. invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan. The Monroe Doctrine recognizes Russia's right to act in their own sphere of influence. All U.S. policy supports the right to secure one's borders.

An old Army saying is, you fuck with the bear, you get the claw.
Look into the abyss, and the abyss looks back.

FDChief said...

"NATO is irrelevant to the issue, as is the U.N."

Y'know, Ranger, I was thinking about this and how hard Dumya and the GOoPers were pushing to get Georgia into NATO after the "Rose Revolution", and what a complete and utter goatscrew that would have led to. Can you imagine the position of NATO trying to face down the Russians over this?

I remember lots of Republicans being very snotty about Finland during the Cold War and how it was this craven little pussy state that trembled under the paw of the Soviet bear.

(Mind you, I suspect these people never googled "The Winter War" before sneering at the Finns.)

Well, guess what. Finland came out of the Cold War just fine, thanks, taking advantage of the Western nuclear umbrella while at the same time doing just enough dancing with the bear to keep it cooled out. The Finns had seen up close and personal what that ugly bastard could do and wanted no more of it.

Like spoiled, self-centered children, the leadership of Georgia didn't bother to read the lessons of the Winter War and are now condemned to repeat them (only without the heroic first chapter where they kick Russian ass). The Finns had the word for them, if they'd have wanted to listen. They didn't, so now the Finns get to sit and watch the TV news showing the Georgian people get punished for the Georgian leaders' stupidity.

What a mess.

rangeragainstwar said...


The Finn's experience is very relevant.

The NATO - US powers that be are making a big mistake pushing NATO up to the Russian borders and violating their needed buffers. The Russians are historically fearful of invasion and now they have all the oil/gas that Europe craves. Not a good formula for friendship.

The US position keeps stressing the democratic nature of Georgia, but fully ignores their parity on that matter with Russia.