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Commentary: Putin's war enablers: Bush and Cheney

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by SuspectCorner, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

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    Putin's war enablers: Bush and Cheney
    Russia's escalating war on Georgia reveals the consequences of the Bush administration's long assault on the international rule of law.
    By Juan Cole / Aug. 14, 2008 / From Salon.com

    The run-up to the current chaos in the Caucasus should look quite familiar: Russia acted unilaterally rather than going through the U.N. Security Council. It used massive force against a small, weak adversary. It called for regime change in a country that had defied Moscow. It championed a separatist movement as a way of asserting dominance in a region it coveted.

    Indeed, despite George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's howls of outrage at Russian aggression in Georgia and the disputed province of South Ossetia, the Bush administration set a deep precedent for Moscow's actions -- with its own systematic assault on international law over the past seven years. Now, the administration's condemnations of Russia ring hollow.

    Bush said on Monday, responding to reports that Russia might attack the Georgian capital, "It now appears that an effort may be under way to depose [Georgia's] duly elected government. Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century." By Wednesday, with more Russian troops on the move and a negotiated cease-fire quickly unraveling, Bush stepped up the rhetoric, announcing a sizable humanitarian-aid mission to Georgia and dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region.

    While U.S. leaders have tended to back Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, there are two sides to every dispute, and in the ethnically diverse Caucasus it may be more like a hundred sides. Abkhazia and Ossetia are claimed by Georgia, but they have their own distinctive languages, cultures and national aspirations. Both fought for independence in the early 1990s, without success, though neither was Georgia able to assert its full sovereignty over them, accepting Russian mediation and peacekeeping troops.

    The separatist leaders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia now speak of Saakashvili in terms reminiscent of the way separatists in Darfur speak of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Sergei Bagapsh of Abkhazia and Eduard Kokoity of South Ossetia have come out against conducting any further talks with Georgia, calling instead for Saakashvili to be tried for war crimes. Kokoity told Interfax, "There can be no talks with the organizers of genocide." The Russian press is full of talk of putting Saakashvili on trial for ordering attacks on Ossetian civilians.

    All sides have committed massacres and behaved abominably. There are no clean hands involved, notwithstanding the strong support for Georgia visible in the press of most NATO member countries. (Georgia has been jockeying to join NATO, something Moscow stridently opposes.) Still, not everyone in NATO agrees that Saakashvili is a hero. While traveling with the negotiating team of President Nicolas Sarkozy, one French official observed that "Saakashvili was crazy enough to go in the middle of the night and bomb a city" in South Ossetia. The consequence of Russia's riposte, he said, is "a Georgia attacked, pulverized, through its own fault."

    An emboldened Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sarcastically likened Russia's actions to Bush's foreign policy. Pointing to the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Putin said, "Of course, Saddam Hussein ought to have been hanged for destroying several Shiite villages ... And the incumbent Georgian leaders who razed 10 Ossetian villages at once, who ran over elderly people and children with tanks, who burned civilians alive in their sheds -- these leaders must be taken under protection."

    In the run-up to the Iraq war, Bush officials repeated ad nauseam the mantra that Saddam Hussein had killed his own people. Thus, they helped create a case for unilateral "humanitarian intervention" of the sort Putin says Russia is now pursuing. Washington had failed to get a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a war on Iraq, and Iraq had not attacked the United States, so no principle of self-defense was at stake. But since all governments (even the United States under Abraham Lincoln) repress separatist movements, often ruthlessly, Bush was turning actions such as Saakashvili's attack on South Ossetia into a more legitimate cause for an outside power (especially one bordering it) to wage war against Georgia.

    Indeed, Putin's invoking Bush's Iraq adventure points directly to the way in which Bush has enabled other world powers to act impulsively. With his doctrine of preemptive warfare, Bush single-handedly tore down the architecture of post-World War II international law erected by the founders of the United Nations to ensure that rogue states did not go about launching wars of aggression the way Hitler had. While safeguarding minorities at risk is a praiseworthy goal, the U.N. Charter states that the Security Council must approve a war launched for this purpose or any other, excepting self-defense. No individual nation is authorized to wage aggressive war on a vigilante basis, as Bush did in Iraq or Russia is now doing in the Caucasus.

    Eight years ago, the United States would have been in a position to condemn Russia for its unilateral war without necessarily seeming hypocritical. After all, even the Korean War had been sanctioned by the United Nations, and President Dwight Eisenhower had condemned the 1956 tripartite attack on Egypt by Britain, France and Israel for violating the U.N. Charter.

    Bush's recent argument, that a democratically elected government should not be overthrown (no matter what its behavior, apparently), was intended to sidestep comparisons between his own unilateral wars of aggression and ones such as the current Russian intervention. He was implying that his invasion of Iraq toppled a government that lacked the legitimacy enjoyed by Saakashvili's.

    In fact, Bush's foreign policy includes a long list of actions intended to undermine elected governments.

    Whether the United States was actively involved in the attempted coup in 2002 against Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela, or merely cheered it on, it is clear that Venezuelan popular sovereignty meant nothing to Bush if it resulted in a government unfriendly to and critical of Washington.

    An even more egregious example came with the destabilization and overthrow of the Hamas government, which won control of the Palestine Authority in January 2006. Bush insisted on allowing the participation in elections of Hamas, a fundamentalist party with a covert paramilitary that has struck at Israeli targets, including civilians. When the party unexpectedly won, however, Bush refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government, denying it funds and sympathizing with the Israeli attempt to overthrow it. Israeli security forces kidnapped elected Hamas representatives and cabinet ministers, and harmed civilians by blocking medical aid and food that might go to people via the Hamas government.

    In 2007, Bush and the Israelis supported a takeover in the West Bank by forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization, lead by Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Similar attempts were made in Gaza, but they failed, leaving the elected Hamas government in charge of the small territory. Palestinian popular sovereignty, and Hamas' victory in what were widely judged to have been relatively free and fair elections, were disregarded by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Bush.

    Bush and Cheney also repeatedly sided with military dictator Pervez Musharraf against elected civilian politicians in Pakistan. Even when the Pakistani Parliament, elected in open polls last February, initiated impeachment proceedings against Musharraf earlier this week, the Bush administration came out against the idea of Musharraf's going into exile if convicted, urging that he be allowed to stay "honorably" in Pakistan if he stepped down.

    Bush's exceptionalism, whereby he implicitly maintained that no international laws or institutions would be allowed to constrain U.S. actions taken in the name of national security, grew out of the sole superpower status of the United States after fall of the Soviet Union. A unipolar world is, however, an exceedingly rare circumstance in modern world history, and it was unlikely to last very long. China may soon have the economic and technological clout to go toe to toe with the United States; and Russia, fueled by the energy boom, is recovering from its economic disaster of the 1990s.

    The collapse of the Soviet economy produced tremendous misery and downward mobility. Uncertainty made couples unwilling to risk having children. In one of the great demographic reversals in history, the Russian Federation's population fell by 10 million in the years after 1991. Russian need for U.S. foreign aid and goodwill led Moscow to acquiesce for a time in the expansion of U.S. influence into Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    Russia is now reemerging and flexing its muscles. The run-up in the price of oil and gas has filled Moscow's coffers, since it is one of the great producers of natural gas in the world (prices of natural gas tend to track with those of petroleum). Russia has reasserted its influence in countries such as Uzbekistan, which had briefly licensed a base to U.S. forces but then kicked them out, and in Turkmenistan, which recently agreed to pipe its natural gas through Moscow. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin are increasingly acting like Gulf emirs, flush with petrodollars and assured of political leverage because of their control over energy resources.

    In a unipolar world, the Bush doctrine of preemptive war allowed Washington to assert itself without fear of contradiction. The Bush doctrine, however, was never meant to be emulated by others and was therefore implicitly predicated on the notion that all challengers would be weaker than the United States throughout the 21st century. Bush and Cheney are now getting a glimpse of a multipolar world in which other powers can adopt their modus operandi with impunity. Bush's rhetoric may have sounded like that of President Woodrow Wilson, but his policy has often been to support the overthrow or hobbling of elected governments that he does not like -- and that has not gone unnoticed by countries that also count themselves great powers and would not mind following suit.

    The problem with international law for a superpower is that it is a constraint on overweening ambition. Its virtue is that it constrains the aggressive ambitions of others. Bush gutted it because he thought the United States would not need it anytime soon. But Russia is now demonstrating that the Bush doctrine can just as easily be the Putin doctrine. And that leaves America less secure in a world of vigilante powers that spout rhetoric about high ideals to justify their unchecked military interventions. It is the world that Bush has helped build.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/08/14/bush_putin/
  2. yeahyeah

    yeahyeah New Member

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    GREAT POST

    :toast:
  3. bbgun

    bbgun Benched

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    A longtime Saddam apologist trying to blame naked Russian aggression on Bush and Cheney? Shocking.
  4. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    Why do people actually read this garbage?
  5. dacarmelking210

    dacarmelking210 New Member

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    Nobody blamed Bush or Cheney for anything; they simply likened the two wars (Iraq and Georgia) together. You have to admit, there are clear similarities between the two situations; if Bush was justified for going to war b/c Saddam killed his own people, then Russia is justified for invading Georgia because Georgia slaughtered THOUSANDS of South Ossetian civilians prior to and during this conflict.

    I would also like to add, I do not condone Russia's actions during this conflict; they are clearly taking things too far.
  6. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    slaughtered thousands. No proof but Russian statements. It does not surprise me that to this day Liberals are always making excuses for Russia. Been doing it for 80 years- why change?
  7. dacarmelking210

    dacarmelking210 New Member

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    Not just during this conflict, but during the decade or so long conflict between the North and South Ossetians.
  8. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    By the way, the article starts out with a lie. The US *did* go before the UN Security Council....for the better part of a year. And got several resolutions passed authorizing force, not the least of which was 1441. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_and_the_Iraq_War

    We also went out of our way to make sure the entire world knew what we were up to well in advance. We took along international press embedded with US forces to document the entire affair. We also took along international forces who fought alongside. I also love the abject dismissal of the gassing of Kurds as an "ad nausium mantra".

    But in any event, the UN is a waste of time when real problems occur. They are impotent in this crisis. They were only able to get a resolution passed for the Korean War because the Soviet Union was boycotting at the time - they would have vetoed otherwise, so we got lucky - getting it passed by the hair of our chinny-chin-chins. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/united_nations_korean_war.htm

    Just as the League of Nations was toothless against the invasion of Ethiopia by Itallian forces, which was the first European shots in WWII, and led to the demise of the League of Nations. It it's place we got the same thing with a different name. http://nhs.needham.k12.ma.us/cur/baker_00/03/baker-mc-03/ethiopia.htm

    Read your history before you post crap from others who need to read their history.
  9. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

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    The Iraq War was a pre-emptive action. If you are unaware of this fact you have only yourself to blame. The information supporting this fact is readily available to anyone with a reasonable desire to cut through Bush Adminstration propaganda and rhetoric and ask a few basic questions.
  10. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    For clarification on Resolution 1441, the language was left deliberately vague, so as to allow various interpretations allowing force on one hand by any member state, and not allowing force by other interpretations. This, however, is one of the problems with debate clubs masquerading as saviours of mankind from warfare. In order to get your unanimous vote, you must water down the language so much that anybody can read a resolutions and come away with whatever interpretation they want. But at least we had a resolution 1441 - I wonder what UN resolution number it was that Russia obtained in order to go into Georgia.
  11. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    I'm tired of having battles of witts with unarmed opponents, as the saying goes. I never said it was not a pre-emptive action. On that point you are correct.
  12. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    Might I also add, that if it was *not* a pre-emptive action (i.e. Iraq attacked us materially), then we would not be talking about UN resolutions, as we would not need one. But...while we're on the subject....how about Iraq firing on coalition aircraft in the no-fly zone on a daily basis? By all measure an act of war. Or had you conveniently forgotten? By any rational measure we bent over backwards to accomodate the UN in this.
  13. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

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    (Incidentally, the word is "wits" - one "t"...)

    Your post: "By the way, the article starts out with a lie. The US *did* go before the UN Security Council....for the better part of a year. And got several resolutions passed authorizing force, not the least of which was 1441."


    Pre-emptive war is illegal by most international standards and you seem to be suggesting that the US acted under some kind of UN approval with regard to the invasion of Iraq - not so:



    Resolution 1441 is ambiguous in two important ways. The first deals with who can determine the existence of a material breach. The second concerns whether another resolution, explicitly authorizing force, is needed before military action against Iraq may be taken.

    On the first issue, a senior Bush administration official has said: "Neither Blix nor ElBaradei, nor we, determine a material breach. The facts determine that [there] is a material breach…. Violations with respect to the declarations, falsifying the declarations or failure to cooperate [with] the inspectors, that fact in itself, the way [paragraph] 4 is worded, constitutes a material breach, which then gets reported to the council, either by Blix or ElBaradei, or…[by] any member—not just at the Security Council—any member of the United Nations." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has explained a similar—though not identical—process by which, "If there is a false statement or omission in the Iraqi Declaration, together with a failure to comply with the resolutions or to cooperate with the inspectors, this can be reported to the Security Council as a further material breach either by a Security Council member or by the inspectors. The council will in any case undoubtedly require the opinion of the inspectors."

    But the French, who had lobbied hard to change the phrase "will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 or 12" to "will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12" disagreed—arguing that only Blix or ElBaradei could determine there had been a material breach. The Chinese, too, believed that "only upon receipt of a report by UNMOVIC and the IAEA on Iraq's noncompliance and failure to cooperate fully in the implementation of the resolution, will the Security Council consider the situation and take a position."

    Resolution 1441's second ambiguity is even more significant. While the resolution makes clear that the Security Council must reconvene to discuss how to deal with Iraqi noncompliance, it does not make clear whether the council must pass another resolution at such a meeting, authorizing the use of force, or whether member states may simply act on their own.

    This difference of opinion came into focus during the discussion following the adoption of Resolution 1441. At that time, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte said: "This resolution contains no 'hidden triggers' and no 'automaticity' with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA, or a Member State, the matter will return to the council for discussion….[But] if the Security Council fails to act decisively in the event of further Iraqi violations, this resolution does not constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq or to enforce the relevant United Nations resolutions and protect world peace and security." The British ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, agreed.

    But others saw things differently. The French ambassador expressed relief that "a two-stage approach" would ensure "that the Security Council would maintain control of the process at each stage." The Russian representative made clear that "the resolution just adopted contains no provisions for the automatic use of force" and warned against "yielding to the temptation of unilateral interpretation of the resolution's provisions." The Chinese delegate similarly said: "China supports the two-stage approach." Several nonpermanent Security Council members agreed. The Irish delegate noted: "As far as Ireland is concerned, it is for the Council to decide on any ensuing action." The Mexican ambassador stressed that "the use of force is valid only as a last resort, with prior explicit authorization required from the Security Council." The Bulgarian delegate said: "This resolution is not a pretext for automatic recourse to the use of force." The Colombian representative noted: "This resolution is not, nor could it be at this time, a resolution to authorize the use of force." Similarly, the ambassador from Cameroon expressed relief that the resolution "does not contain traps or automaticity." And the Syrian ambassador said: "The resolution should not be interpreted, through certain paragraphs, as authorizing any State to use force. It reaffirms the central role of the Security Council in addressing all phases of the Iraqi issue."


    http://www.worldpress.org/specials/iraq/
  14. masomenos

    masomenos Less is more

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    I love when people make mistakes like that when they're trying to prove how smart they are. Even if it's just a typo, I still love it.
  15. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    Mr Suspect, did you read your own post? And mine prior? About the inherent impotence of debate clubs? Your own quote mentioned the deliberate ambiguity of the resolution - a trait almost all UN resolutions have (spelling of wit notwithstanding when one is trying to type on a keyboard at almost 11pm and figures some folks just *might* pay attention to the content).

    You also skipped over my pointing out in your prior post about the glorious UN resolution authorizing action in Korea....only because the Soviet Union boycotted. Nope, move along, nothing to see here.

    Ask the Poles about inept leadership. Ask the Czechs. Ask France. Ask Finland...Denmark...Luxembourg....Ethiopia... And while you're dashing about hunting for a reasonable facsimile of a history book complete with an unused map, be sure to ask them how that debate club came to the rescue. Again, you are great at feigning superficial knowledge of history, but that don't fly with me.
  16. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    You people have this all wrong as usual. This was NOT a preemptive strike. For the one billionth time. This was also not a new war. This was the enforcement of the UN Resolutions that led to Saddam's agreement to abide by them from the first Gulf War. He was in violation of them. If a byproduct of this was that we got rid of a state sponsor of terrorism then so be it.

    People don't want to even address this because it would not give them the green light to bash their favorite whipping boy. It's unfortunate, but the bashers get way to much credibility in the leftist news agencies then the little zombies who follow them just keep mouthing the same line time after time.
  17. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    Eye'm sorrie mie grazp of hiz-tory duz not meat whith ur uh-proval.
  18. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    Well, there is *that* little detail. Violating terms of the cease-fire he agreed to in order to end hostilities. Oh, wait, I'm sorry....I meant "in ordur two ennd hoztiliteez". So the peanut gallery can follow alllllong, you know. Uh.....long.....
  19. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

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    You Jason Witten fan you...
  20. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    Might I also volunteer there is a stain on the shirt I'm wearing while typing these posts. That completely undermines my points as well, don't forget.

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