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The Analogists' Ball [Georgia, Russia, Cold War?]
The New Republic ^ | 11.08.2008 | Leon Wieseltier

Posted on 08/13/2008 10:29:48 AM PDT by Tolik

Quite interesting discussion between more sane Left with less sane (some would say insane) Left. Leon Wieseltier does include some obligatory jibes at Bush/Chaney but otherwise provides a compelling argument  against reflexive blame Bush, "America made them do it" reaction of the crazy Left. Don't miss some interesting insights by a poster teplukhin2you down in the discussion area (at the TNR) on what might motivate Putin and his band of thugs.

Excerpts and highlights are mine. Follow the link to the complete article.


... My colleague John Judis has flabbergasted me with something he posted on these pages a few hours ago. In an item ominously called "A New Cold War?", he writes: "McCain has consistently refused to acknowledge that Russia's turn toward an aggressive nationalism was triggered at all by American moves to expand NATO, abrogate the anti-missile treaty, build a pipeline through Georgia bypassing Russia, and a new anti-missile system in Eastern Europe. For McCain, it's simply a product of Vladimir Putin's evil intentions. That kind of outlook could fuel a new Cold War." Of course, a Russian invasion of Georgia could also fuel a new Cold War; but I'm getting ahead of my point.

I leave aside the matter of McCain and Obama, since I think the war in Georgia is primarily about the war in Georgia and not another excuse to chatter about the presidential campaign. I agree with Judis that abrogating the anti-missile treaty was stupid in a dark, Cheney-ish kind of way, though I fail to see the American offense in preferring that Russia not control every inch of pipeline that flows westward from central Asia. But it is not Judis's bill of particulars that amazes me so much as his general argument. I have heard it before, when I was a puppy. Judis appears actually to believe that Russia is--how shall I put it? I'll try the old way--expanding because it feels encircled. He writes plangently of "older Russian fears of encirclement." His quick picture of Putin's actions across Russia's border portrays a completely reactive man. What else was Putin to do? We pushed him into Georgia! And then there is the use of that word "simply." As in: "For McCain, it's simply a product of Vladimir Putin's evil intentions." That little word does a lot of business. Coming from an intellectual, it is one of the cruelest insults. As in: For Judis, it's simply a product of Western behavior. Not nice, right? And the insult to Judis is of course greater than the insult to McCain. For McCain always thinks simply, doesn't he? I mean, he supported the war in Iraq. But for Judis, and all the other liberals who have sagely grasped the limits of American force and the blandishments of soft power and the danger of flying too close to the sun--they pride themselves upon their complexity. They are not simply anything.

There is a large historical and even philosophical matter at stake here. It has to do with the analysis of the motives of America's rivals and enemies. Briefly, I see no reason almost ever to reduce their actions to our actions. Yes, history is a bramble of causes and effects, direct and indirect, and our policies have consequences; but still our rivals and our enemies are autonomous historical agents. They have beliefs and interests and desires and fears that we did not give them, or provide the occasion for them to get. Is there anything at all that we know about Vladimir Putin, about his background or his worldview or his career or his way with power, that makes his invasion of Georgia surprising? Putin champions a particular vision of Russia and a particular vision of Russia in the world. That vision is indigenous to himself and to the political culture over which he presides. It is a primary fact of the contemporary world. Not even the presidency of Barack Obama will rid him of it. You see, he does not wish to be rid of it.

So Judis's comment strikes me as a robotic reiteration of the old left-wing view of the Cold War, here applied to post-Soviet Russia. It is just a matter of hours before Richard Falk writes the same thing. (It turns out that those who remember history are also condemned to repeat it. Bummer.) But I will grant Judis his question. Is this a new Cold War? Truly I hope it is not. But whether or not it is a new Cold War, in Gori--and tomorrow maybe in Tbilisi--it is a hot war. Whether or not it is a new Cold War, it is an old war of authoritarianism against democracy. So what exactly are we supposed to tell our friends, the besieged Georgians? That we are tired? That they should have provoked Putin before 2003, or before 2001? That we have re-read Niebuhr?   ...  


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Russia
KEYWORDS: coldwar; coldwar2; foreignpolicy; georgia; leonwieseltier; ossetia; putin; russia; tnr

1 posted on 08/13/2008 10:29:49 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Lando Lincoln; neverdem; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; Valin; King Prout; SJackson; dennisw; ...


This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for the perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author all 100% to feel the need to share an article.) I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention. You can see the list of articles I pinged to lately  on  my page.
You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about). Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.  

2 posted on 08/13/2008 10:31:08 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Tolik
That the Left will blame America is a given. And the peaceniks have been quiet as church mice over the Russian assault on a small country's territory. You don't have to look beyond their hypocrisy to conclude that the only country they want to disarm is America. The Left does not see America as a force for good in the world. It sees nothing wrong with our adversaries adventurism abroad. Sure, the Georgians were probably unwise to provoke The Bear. But that is not the main issue. The main issue is that Russia is using force to see how much it can get away with and now it that it has laid down a precedent in the face of a weak and compliant West, it will in all likelihood resort to it again at some point in the future. In the face of all this, the Left still believes the greatest threat to the planet's future is the wholly imaginary peril of global warming, not the real threat posed from a resurgent Russia! That says it all.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

3 posted on 08/13/2008 11:33:41 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Tolik

And of course it had nothing to do with Kosovo and the way the West ignored the Russians and created a new Muslim state.

4 posted on 08/13/2008 11:49:53 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: Tolik

I had not read this, but see my post #43 on the thread regarding Robert Scheer’s article in the SF Chronicle.

5 posted on 08/13/2008 1:04:22 PM PDT by xkaydet65 (Freedom is purchased not with gold, but with steel.)
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To: xkaydet65
Good response. I agree.
6 posted on 08/13/2008 1:11:51 PM PDT by Tolik
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
I think Kosovo irritated Russians, but their stance on Georgia is a separate issue. Putin was pissed at them regardless of Kosovo/Serbia. They are saying: we can do it and nothing you, western paper tiger, can do about it.

Speaking about Balkans. Its quite complicated. My instinct of reflexively supporting Serbs (well, mostly) was challenged lately. See what Michael Totten writes about his visit to Balkans and Kosovo specifically. He is a journalist that earned my respect with his reportages from Lebanon and Iraq. He is very much not a MSM run of the mill guy. But see for yourself:

7 posted on 08/13/2008 1:20:06 PM PDT by Tolik
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To: Tolik

Yeah this guy gets it——>>> ——>>

teplukhin2you said:
It’s laughable to watch the likes of Stephen Cohen and the other frozen-in-the-Amber-Room lefties contort themselves trying to make excuses for a criminalized Russian state whose only ideology is that of John Gotti. Putin’s regime has no ideology, neither soviet nor Great Russian nor Orthodoxy/Autocracy. His grand strategy begins and ends with his offshore personal accounts, and the commodities that generate the cash flowing into same. If the Fulda Gap still has any interest to him and his fellow FSB thieves, it’s as a glide path for their Gulfstreams enroute to their private bankers in Zurich or Liechtenstein.......

8 posted on 08/13/2008 2:27:38 PM PDT by dennisw (That Muhammad was a charlatan. Islam is a hoax, an imperialistic ideology, disguised as religion.)
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To: Tolik
Totyten's report seems only to support my attitude (support to the Georgians). Kollik's (sp?) included report only more so.
I think you suggest that you feel or felt similarly - so how did it challenge your instincts?
9 posted on 08/13/2008 3:02:45 PM PDT by norton
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To: norton
Totyen = Totten
Kollik = Kucera

That admitted, the original liberal on liberal discussion is a good find.

10 posted on 08/13/2008 3:06:29 PM PDT by norton
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To: Tolik

Thanks for the ping.

11 posted on 08/13/2008 4:31:08 PM PDT by GOPJ (If Hillary steals the nomination, blacks will sit home. The GOP can take it all. Go for it Hillary.)
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
And of course it had nothing to do with Kosovo and the way the West ignored the Russians and created a new Muslim state.

We gave an inch, they take a mile?

12 posted on 08/13/2008 4:34:20 PM PDT by GOPJ (If Hillary steals the nomination, blacks will sit home. The GOP can take it all. Go for it Hillary.)
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To: norton
Totten's website is simply designed, but cumbersome. A visitor must figure out that all previous posts are archived by month and that list is way down on the left side.

He traveled through all former Yugoslavia and spent more time in Kosovo. (look for June-July 2008). There is no saints over there and the war was bloody with neighbor killing neighbor, but also a neighbor saving neighbor. Among other things he looked for was whether Jihadists were successful in infiltrating in and where. It is uneven. Contrary to popular opinion, Kosovo is less affected than Bosnia and especially Macedonia. Quote from The Bin Ladens of the Balkans, Part II

... After the Kosovo War ended in 1999, well-heeled Gulf Arabs with Saudi money moved in to rebuild mosques destroyed by Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslav army and paramilitary forces. They're still there trying to impose a stern Wahhabi interpretation of Islam on indigenous Europeans, and they're having an awfully difficult time getting much traction. Almost everyone in Kosovo despises these people. They are known as the Binladensa, the people of Osama bin Laden.

Things are different in next-door Macedonia. I had driven two hours from Kosovo's capital Prishtina through beautifully sculpted mountains and forest to Tetovo near the Kosovo and Albanian borders.

What I saw there was startling.

Kosovo is a Muslim-majority country. Macedonia isn't. Only a third of Macedonia's people are Muslims. Most Muslims in both countries are ethnic Albanians, but the difference between the two came like a shock – and not in the way you might expect. Aside from the mosque minarets, Kosovo doesn't look or feel like a Muslim country at all. Its culture and politics are thoroughly secular, and its believers are not demonstrative about their religion. A huge number of people in Tetovo, though, looked like they had been airlifted in from the Middle East.

I spent three weeks in Kosovo and saw no more than one or two women each day wearing a hijab – an Islamic headscarf – over their hair.

In Macedonia I saw dozens wearing a hijab in just ten minutes while driving to the cafe to meet Shpetim Mahmudi. I even saw a handful of women wearing an all-enveloping black abaya -- the closest thing the Arab world has to a burkha.

I never once saw one of those in Kosovo, not even in villages. As soon as I crossed the border into Macedonia, I felt like I had been whisked through a hole in the dimension from southeastern Europe to somewhere in Arabia.

Hijabs aren't strictly Islamic. There are Muslim countries all over the world where few women wear them. It's a cultural import from the Arab world. There is nothing wrong with wearing a hijab by choice (they are required by law in Iran), and it would be wrong to assume a woman or her family are Islamist extremists based on their head gear, but I was still startled to see so many in Macedonia. Albanian women do not traditionally wear them. It was obvious that soft-imperial Arab “missionaries” from the Gulf are having a much more profound effect on the ground in Macedonia than in Kosovo.

Since I can't personally visit all places I'd like to go to, I have to rely on others. Totten earned my respect with his honest reports from Iraq, Lebanon, Hezbollah areas, Israel. I think I can trust him. His posts generate good discussions including people from over there - sometimes quite hot arguments. Its a ton of reading to catch up in a hurry, but just stop somewhere and read a bit. He is a good writer. Make you own opinion.

13 posted on 08/14/2008 9:27:09 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Tolik
I'll go back to his site, sounds promising.

Wondering if the difference between Kosovo and Macedonia may have to do with the fact that only one is already muslim - they might be working harder to convert the other by politicizing the existing minority?
(Seems to be working here)

14 posted on 08/14/2008 11:00:55 AM PDT by norton
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