TCS Daily


Prospects of a Caucasus War

By Michael Cecire - May 11, 2009 12:00 AM

For those of us watching closely, monitoring events in the Caucasus, 2009 seems to be gearing up to be little better than the shock-and-horrors of 2008 that culminated in Russia's August invasion. While most countries and places are contented enough to live with one crisis at a time, the bubbling cauldron of the Black Sea region has become a veritable buffet line of intrigue, unrest, competing ideologies and a classic Westphalian great power tug-o-war.

The latest in what is becoming an ever-thickening deck of contentious incidents are the unsettling reports of an attempted coup d'etat engineered by members of the Georgian military at the Mukhrovani military base. Though the threat seems to have been defused and those allegedly responsible detained, the sheer alignment of events and interests questions the link of the attempted coup to the larger question mark of Russian intentions.

Almost immediately following the (official) cessation of hostilities after the August War, intense discussions have been held in the pages of journals, classrooms and war rooms to determine if Russia's seemingly shifting objectives meant that the Georgia invasion was an aberration, or if it was the heralding of a newly aggressive, militaristic policy. Though fears were initially directed at the unstable regions of Ukraine's pro-Moscow Crimea, reigniting tensions between Russia and Georgia have given way to worries that Russia intends to finish the job they started last August. The apparently prescient Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based independent defense analyst who ably predicted the last war, has been sounding the alarms about a possible renewal of conflict. From Felgenhauer's February article:

There is hope in Moscow that the Georgian opposition may still overthrow Mikheil Saakashvili's regime or that the Obama administration will somehow remove him. However, if by May, Saakashvili remains in power, a military push by Russia to oust him may be seriously contemplated.

Just as Felgenhauer's original predictions were vindicated by the brief-but-bloody war last August, recent events seem to support what increasingly looks like an inevitable slide back into conflict. Grievous provocations by Russian and separatist forces, appallingly ironic accusations of supporting North Caucasus separatists, attempted 'Putin Youth' infiltration, ramped up Russian propaganda efforts, and a cynical, geopolitically-motivated faux furor over long-planned NATO emergency response exercises (to which Russia was invited), expose what is looking more and more like a fabricated portfolio of Georgian 'provocations' to lend the appearance of credibility to a renewal of military action.

The real story here, however, is the nexus between the radical opposition, Russia, and the still-unclear quasi-rebellion that erupted on Tuesday. With the exception of Irakly Alasania and Giorgi Targamadze's moderate blocs, an increasingly desperate radical opposition has alienated itself from most of the Georgian public and seems committed to the transfer of power by coercion over election, resorting to escalating levels of violence against government authorities and seemingly intent on maximizing disruption disproportionate to their fast-dwindling numbers. On its face, this is troubling enough for such a young and patently unstable democracy, and lingering questions about the radical opposition's ties to the Kremlin casts the gravity of the situation into sharp relief.

A prominent insider, whose name I will not disclose for security reasons, characterized the backdrop of the situation as one where "all the [Georgian] political émigrés in Moscow are now in service of the Kremlin." Many of these Moscow-based Georgians, themselves vested beneficiaries of the Russian power vertical and from old Soviet nomenklatura families, maintain very close ties to the radical opposition, including Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's erstwhile ally, Nino Burjanadze, herself from the old nomenklatura class.

"Socially," adds my informant, "these people are very close to her, her father and her husband." Burjanadze is today an outspoken opposition leader, who is coming off the tail end of a series of allegations linking her to an April conspiracy to incite political violence.

The implication is hardly veiled, but nonetheless compelling. Could it be that the increasingly frantic opposition is being bankrolled by Kremlin proxies and working in support of overthrowing the pro-West government? As unsettling and gut-wrenchingly Saakashvili-serving as it may seem, such an allegation is fast moving from 'crazy' territory, to within the realm of rational possibility. Indeed, to add to the twist, details slowly emerging about the Mukhrovani mutiny incident are further implicating portions of the radical opposition, and with it pointing to possible Russian involvement, and even military action.

One officer, Maj. Mardoni Chikhvanaia says that several weeks ago Maj. Levan Amiridze, commander of rangers' battalion, who is now at large, told him that "some people in the opposition" offered him to join the protest rally in Tbilisi with dozens of his solders.

This brings us full circle. Russia appears to be sensing that their efforts to see Saakashvili toppled through a counter-revolution are badly backfiring and will likely not succeed. With the Russian economy in compounding peril and a potential opportunity with the new U.S. Administration, Russia's first choice is probably not to launch a new, August-style invasion, which explains a heavy reliance on political and quasi-military proxies to achieve its policy goals. The last thing Russia wants is to do a replay of the Chechen wars, which was characterized more by Russia's brutality and ineffectiveness at counterinsurgency than the long-delayed pacification (through a Faustian vassal arrangement with the Chechen imperator, Ramzan Kadyrov). Acting in an auxiliary role to a 'native' uprising (another lesson learned from the Chechen wars in Kadyrov) is vastly preferable to suffering the slogs of invasion, extended occupation, and direct administration.

At the same time, Saakashvili's removal is fast changing from a pride issue to an economic one. With Russia's once-bursting fortunes wrecked by the economic recession, signs that Turkmenistan - whose sweetheart deal gas exports via Russia's Gazprom has been the fulcrum for the Kremlin's principal foreign policy instrument -- energy blackmail -- is looking to diversify its exports and get fair coin for its gas. This is giving Moscow a severe case of the jitters. With the only non-Russian pipeline to Europe running straight through Georgia, control of Georgia means safeguarding Russia's future economic health and geopolitical clout, for which the Kremlin depends upon for its social contract with already increasingly-restive regions.

The dangers are clearly mounting, and more than the fate of a South Caucasus republic is on the line. Total Russian dominance of the European energy market will irrevocably alter Europe-Russia and transatlantic relations with reverberations throughout Asia, much of it to the West's disadvantage. Even though Russia's goals may not favor overt aggression, the risk may be one that a paranoid Moscow is willing to take if it sees the Georgian transit corridor as the only way to preserve power in the face of a newly assertive Central Asia, and amidst these difficult economic times.

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63 Comments

It takes two to make a war
Okay, on the one side we have Russia. And those little Russian proxy places like Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

And on the other side, who do we have? Anybody?

Anybody want to fight Russia over it? NATO?

I don't think so.

I am forced to agree with Roy's observation
Especially with Obama in power. He'll sell out the Georgians just as much as he'll sell out the Taiwanese and Israelis.

And Europe will become totally Finlandized (yes, that's an actual word!) after Russia gets that pipeline, too.

As I stated in an earlier forum thread: I predict that Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus will be absorbed -- each in some way or another -- by Russia within the next five years.

Georgia, of course, is first on the menu. Always has been.

While I have to agree, I see it as a sad state of affairs.
Georgia is certainly not entirely innocent, but the fact that there is no one to come to her aid if everything heads severely downhill is pretty despicable.

However, I have to agree that this is the present state of affairs in that region. And, yes, Russia will, in all probability, take advantage.

Not the place to take a stand
I'd first suggest that Obama probably doesn't bear a lot of hands-on responsibility for the direction of our foreign policy. That's not his thing.. and he's been showing himself entirely willing to go along with the more senior opinions of people like the Pentagon chiefs, James Baker and even Hillary.

So, assuming that much the same people are running our decisions vis a vis going to war now as were running it last year, in the rump Bush era, I would not share Zyndryl's disgust at the course events are taking. The Obama-troll's fingerprints are not on this.

Saakashvili's not very popular with anyone. He's titular head of a very weak government in a quasi-state known for its very weak governments. He got snookered into a chess game with V. Putin, a guy who (a) has an immensely strong military and (b) knows how to play a game of chess. The smart money would predict that one day soon, Saakashvili may be abruptly stepping down, so some previously unknown pro-Moscow stooge can try on his shoes.

Is it any of our business? We deplore it, of course, but I don't think the Pentagon is going to regard this as our line in the sand.

Not our business, perhaps - but it should be someone's
I'm not saying the U.S. should rush in, but what about our European allies and/or NATO??

Some stern diplomatic involvement by the U.S. is also called for; especially if Russia makes any further moves.

Of course, it is NEVER Obama's fault
He has to make a decision now... but why should he? Roy and all the other Munich Appeasers never want Obama to take the heat on anything.

Not the place to take a stand, you say?

So I guess what you are really saying is "Screw Turkey, long time NATO ally" as well. Georgia shares a long border with Turkey, Roy. All that instability...and Russia's armies right up along that border too. Need I remind you that the last time Turkey was so threatened, we deployed Jupiter nuclear missiles there...and that led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis a few years later? While I doubt such events will happen this time, it is a good example of how things spin out of control.

Yup. Screw over our NATO allies. That is the Obama Way as unwittingly defined by Roy Bean.

If not us, then who?
Our European allies? Aren't they a little weary of following us by now? After all, they followed us into the quagmires and thickets of Iraq, only to find no WMDs. All that episode did for them was to provoke the collapse of a government in Spain.

NATO? They're just as weary by now, and are all looking for ways to quit the never-ending quest to civilize Afghanistan. Plus, they all know (or, maybe, everyone but the USA) not to touch the Third Rail. That would be entering into a direct conflict with nuclear, mighty Russia.

The Jedi?

Remember, if no force is implied, you've done nothing but advertise your own impotence. This is precisely where Russia is coming from. Since we're not going to actually do anything, they knows they can do what they want. That thinking is obvious in their whole foreign policy.

To which I say, so what? Georgia is abysmally governed. To switch it over from a corrupt, vaguely pro-Western government to a corrupt, strongly pro-Russian government may be lamentable. But it's far from being the end of the world.

So let's examine our options. Let things take the course they're taking, and one day a gaggle of Russian stooges will take over. At a cost of a small handful of lvies, tops.

Or, Course B, find some army stupid enough to get involved in a face-off with Imperial Russia. Conceivably, if things go nuclear, you end up with millions of lives lost, part of a continent devastated and relations soured for well into the next century.

Let's have a proportionate response. Deplore the action strongly, here in the pages of TCS. I will promise you, if the worst comes to pass and the Rooskies take over, in another ten years it'll change back around again. It's GEORGIA.

"It" is not anyone's fault
"It" is the official policy of the United States. Not to provoke an armed confrontation with Russia.

And "it" is demonstrably not being done at Obama's initiative. It has been our policy for years now. "It" is in the mainstream of our defense posture.

"Yup. Screw over our NATO allies."

Do you see one single NATO ally telling us they think a confrontation with Russia is a good idea? I don't.

Use actual sources when responding to that one. NATO is universally against an involvement in Georgia.

You feel very strongly about the issue. Because, no doubt, it's a manly posture that suits you. But please outline this for us. What would we stand to gain by answering a provocation in a poorly governed backwater lying next to Russia with threats of violence?

Wouldn't that just be doing the same thing Krushchev did when he provoked the Cuban Missile Crisis? That's thinking with your gonads.

You have to actually think when you consider crossing lines in the sand. You can't just be throwing hollow threats around in a nuclear arena. Someone's liable to take you seriously.

Or are you ready to bomb Moscow? Knowing you, that would make sense.

Learn some geopolitics first, Roy
"Do you see one single NATO ally telling us they think a confrontation with Russia is a good idea? I don't."

No. But you didn't hear Poland or Czechoslovakia say that either about Germany in 1938-39 until it was too late, did they?

And it is a bogus point...there is what one wants and what one must do.

"NATO is universally against an involvement in Georgia."

Prove that, please.

Turkey has been supporting Georgia...particularly in the last war with Russia. It has supplied arms, provided training and promoted Georgia's candidacy in to NATO (obviously a lost cause).

"You can't just be throwing hollow threats around in a nuclear arena. Someone's liable to take you seriously."

Or not at all, because you can't show weakness either.

"Or are you ready to bomb Moscow?"

No. We don't need to do any of that to 'win'. We just have to prevent the other guy from winning where it is against our interests if they should otherwise win.

Works great in Iraq for our war against AQ. Containment worked great during the Cold War also. Nobody got nuked, did they?

Indeed
oh yes. But they still have one big problem: Demographic implosion.

Because of the geopolitical circumstances Russia finds itself in, it has always had to maintain a large standing army because of poor internal road infrastructures combined with vast territory it has to protect from invasion.

And every time Russia has gotten soft on its army, it pretty much got invaded or threatened with invasion.

Well, with the demographic implosion Russia is experiencing and will only see worsen going forward, it won't be able to raise such a force much longer even with all the economic recovery in the world. And they know it.

Read 'The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century' by George Friedman.

He lays it all out. He explains why Russia feels so threatened (and that oil pipeline is too good to pass up too) and why it has to act within the next decade (2010-2020) to rectify the situation or it is toast.

The humiliation of the Yeltsin years (sometimes referred to as 'Weimar Russia') doesn't help, either.

You and I in the West don't see things the same way the Russians do. And the more I learn about it, the more I can't blame them for it. But that still doesn't mean we have to take it.

One strong, one weak.
Bullies don't pick on those who will fight back.

Not a winning proposition
"But you didn't hear Poland or Czechoslovakia say that either about Germany in 1938-39 until it was too late, did they?"

So you think Georgia's just a stepping stone? And that if Russia is allowed to change the regime there they'll then invade all the NATO countries, one by one?

You guys are like the John Birchers.. always fighting some war from fifty years ago.

NATO will back off if the Russian bear so much as snarls. They are definitely not getting into a shooting war over Georgia, much less one involving nukes.

They would do so if any current member were attacked. But Georgia's not a member.

"We just have to prevent the other guy from winning where it is against our interests if they should otherwise win."

How would you propose preventing the other guy from winning, if we don't bring troops and heavy munitions to Georgia?

I mean really. Tell us how. Then when you're through, write to the Joint Chiefs and tell them. Because they know there's no way possible, short of two great armies going head to head.

Anything we could say would be a hollow bluff. And the Russians know it. So quite wisely, we're saying nothing.

Who said anything about a shooting war?
"You guys are like the John Birchers.. always fighting some war from fifty years ago."

The Russians are fighting some war from sixty years ago.

"They are definitely not getting into a shooting war over Georgia, much less one involving nukes."

Who said anything about a shooting war or one involving nukes? Not anyone else other than you posting on this forum. Not the author of the article.

"They would do so if any current member were attacked. But Georgia's not a member."

Yes, I know Roy. I stated so. So what is your point?

The NATO angle is about Turkey and the pipeline strangulation of Europe.

"How would you propose preventing the other guy from winning, if we don't bring troops and heavy munitions to Georgia?"

We can bring in troops...'advisors'...'peaceforcers'. Don't need any heavy munitions (such a notion is from wars fought thirty years ago, Roy). We place them in strategic areas and use them like human shields. The Russians won't dare attack. The Russians pulled the same trick when they airlifted Russian troops into an airport in Kosovo, remember?

"Anything we could say would be a hollow bluff."

Sure...especially anything Obama would say.

"And the Russians know it"

Yep, they do.

You keep drifting off topic Roy. I stated that I believed that Georgia would fall. I just disagreed with you in your claim that it is not NATO's problem. It is NATO's problem because of how it will change the situation with Turkey and with Europe.

Bullies
In the long history, Russia/Soviet Union has never attacked a (presumably) stronger or equal rival.

Even more: They sent half a million soldiers to Czechoslovakia, country of 14m, with virtually no private weapons. No insurgency followed.

We should get Georgia and Ukraine into NATO asap. Then: They will continue yelling, boasting and threatening, we should go bowling.

Rusian claims on Georgia
Your argument is starting to take a circular form.

Originally your refutation was that I had no evidence NATO would be uninterested in rescuing Georgia from the jam it had gotten itself into. You implied that this is something they should do. And I indicated that Georgia's not a member, and that therefore they had neither a mandate nor an interest. For that matter that they have displayed no interest.. which amounts to a negative interest. So don't count on NATO.

"Who said anything about a shooting war or one involving nukes? Not anyone else other than you posting on this forum. Not the author of the article."

My take on Russian behavior is that they only respond to force. Or to a credible threat of force. Moral suasion doesn't work with them. You can dispute that if you'd like (but you'd be wrong). Therefore we're only talking about the threat or use of force. A showdown.

Ain't going to happen.

The EU (not exactly NATO) does in fact have an interest. They heat with gas, and their gas comes from Russia-- as does much of their oil. Russia is anxious to consolidate their hold on deliveries, for the obvious reasons. And the Baku- Tbilisi- Ceyhan Pipeline goes through Georgia. Obviously, no sane nation would want the burden of having to govern a place like Georgia without there being a payoff. And that's it.

The gas and oil originate in nominally independent Azerbaijan, in actuality a Russian satrapy. Obviously, in the global chess game Tbilisi is a prize. But not one worth confronting Russia over. Europe has no claim on the place, given the current situation.

I do get annoyed, though, with your instinctive Obama-bashing. I tell you "Anything we could say would be a hollow bluff." And you reply "Sure...especially anything Obama would say."

That kind of thing is skewing your vision. It was obvious last year under Bush that we held a losing hand, and were going to toss it in. Secondly, Obama has taken a back seat to his senior advisers in the matter of confrontational foreign policy matters. Thirdly, the one that counts is Jim Baker.

If you want to know what we're going to do about Georgia, ask him. He's the man in charge.

BTW Russia has asserted suzerainty over Georgia for the past 200 years, not just the past sixty. She picked the little kingdom up at the baccarat table.

Aren't all socialists bullies?
Just like union bosses and BHO.

Ok to bash Bush but not Obama. Hear that everybody?
"Originally your refutation was that I had no evidence NATO would be uninterested in rescuing Georgia from the jam it had gotten itself into."

No, my refutation was that NATO would not like Georgia falling into Russian control.

"You implied that this is something they should do."

No, I said that this is something they should be interested...and gave reasons.

"And I indicated that Georgia's not a member, and that therefore they had neither a mandate nor an interest."

So what? I agreed that Georgia wasn't a member. But Turkey is. And Turkey will be impacted.

Tell me Roy, did we get involved in Yugoslavia for Yugoslavia's sake...or for NATO Italy and NATO Greece's sake?

"Moral suasion doesn't work with them. You can dispute that if you'd like (but you'd be wrong)."

So what? I never said it would. You keep thinking I say things that I clearly do not.

"Ain't going to happen."

Tell it to the Turks.

"The EU (not exactly NATO) does in fact have an interest. They heat with gas, and their gas comes from Russia-- as does much of their oil"

The EU is bigger in membership, Roy. You aren't making any sense.

"But not one worth confronting Russia over."

Such ignorance. Germany is almost totally dependent on Russian gas as it is, Roy.

"If you want to know what we're going to do about Georgia, ask him. He's the man in charge."

No, nobody is 'in charge' in the Obama Administration except Obama himself. He's the Wizard of Oz, after all. It can't possibly be Axelrod and the Teleprompter programmer.

"I do get annoyed, though, with your instinctive Obama-bashing."

I am just applying Obama bashing just as you did your Bush bashing, Roy.

"BTW Russia has asserted suzerainty over Georgia for the past 200 years, not just the past sixty. She picked the little kingdom up at the baccarat table."

So what? Turkey fought the Russians over that area too. And there wasn't a NATO then. And Europe wasn't under the thrall of Russia for gas supplies.

The world changes, Roy. Catch up with it.

Even some 'liberals' are concerned about BHO fanatics.
"If you want to stop a conversation in its tracks, just question something President Barack Obama has said or done. It's not open to debate -- and I don't think that's healthy, for the country or the president."

http://www.freep.com/article/20090503/COL28/905030325/

Hopelessly twisted
Here's what I said: "I do get annoyed, though, with your instinctive Obama-bashing. I tell you "Anything we could say would be a hollow bluff." And you reply "Sure...especially anything Obama would say."

"That kind of thing is skewing your vision. It was obvious last year under Bush that we held a losing hand, and were going to toss it in. Secondly, Obama has taken a back seat to his senior advisers in the matter of confrontational foreign policy matters. Thirdly, the one that counts is Jim Baker."

Obviously no US politician of consequence sees any point in backing a lame horse. And our policy hasn't changed from one administration to the next. So naturally your response is "Ok to bash Bush but not Obama. Hear that everybody?"

That, to me, is a twisted response.

Want to back somebody who puts his opponents in prison? Saakashvili's your man then. Or how about one who orders his police to club protesters? Again, it's Mister S.

A more sensible way of addressing the question would not be to immediately cast this situation as a contest between D policies (not good) and R policies (good), as is typical among your brainless species, but rather to look into the realities of Georgian politics.

Here's a pretty good snapshot, from the normally very informative American Conservative Magazine:

http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/sep/22/00008/

Mundane matters
A couple of things caught my eye in your comment. The first is this:

"Tell me Roy, did we get involved in Yugoslavia for Yugoslavia's sake...or for NATO Italy and NATO Greece's sake?"

I really don't know. You'd have to ask Bill Clinton. All we can see from where I'm sitting was that for a number of years, both the US and Europe ignored the human tragedy taking place in Bosnia. Then when much the same thing flared up in Kosovo, Clinton took the occasion to saturate rump Yugoslavia with a bombing campaign that destroyed its industrial infrastructure.

One would have thought that if his purpose was to force a solution in Kosovo he would have targeted the military infrastructure. But that wasn't the case.

So yes, if you could inform us, I'd be very curious to know what was going through his mind.

The second thing is that in your opinion Europe is "under the thrall of Russia for gas supplies."

Quite so. But by the same token, Russia is beholden to Europe as their primary purchaser.

So yes, who runs Georgia does matter, a little bit. But either way, whether a corrupt Georgia is adding their mordida to the cost of Gazprom's product or whether some other pricing plan is in effect, the obvious fact is that the producer, the transit country and the consumer all have to get together on a mutually acceptable cost structure. Free trade in Russian gas is a fact in that area.. and everyone's jockeying for the best price they can get.

war between who and who?
I don't think Obama would go to war over Georgia, after all it must already be embarassing to continue the two wars as he is; it must be humiliating to maintain the 700+ bases all over the world as he favors doing. So to start another war the US also can't afford, and after putting the country into more debt than all other prsidents combined? I don't think so.

Another reason is that Russia has nukes and the US doesn't like to fight other countries that have the bomb. Nowadays the US prefers to fight weak decrepid countries with a huge power disadvantage. Look out how they even wimp out to north korea.

It's also naive to expect the Eu to do anything. After all that's the same place that couldn't even sort out Serbia and had to beg the US to help them.

In any case, I'm surprised that people think this somthing unusual since Russia is just behaving the way all big coutries do, that is, bully their neighbours and try to keep them as vassals. If America can do it all day long, why not Russia? Why not China? They all do it. All the self-righteous hand-wringing is preposterous.

Where are the 700+ US bases around the world?
Such statements stretches your creds.

Saakashvili: Champion of Freedom
"In 2004, Sandra Roeloffs, the Dutch wife of pro-American president Mikheil Saakashvili, told a newspaper in her home country, “Georgia has produced strong leaders: Stalin, Beria, Gamsakhurdia [the post-Soviet leader], even Shevardnadze before he became addicted to power. They looked further than Georgia alone. My husband does the same. He fits in the tradition. This country needs a strong hand. It is extremely important that respect for authority returns. I think my husband is the right person to frighten people.”

http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/sep/22/00008/

Here's another tidbit, from the same source:

" The country’s political history in the 17 years since the collapse of the USSR has been almost exclusively violent. The Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia was overthrown in 1992 after a civil war with the two separatist regions. He was replaced by James Baker’s old friend Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Soviet foreign minister and long-time Communist Party boss in Georgia, who returned to his native land after the collapse of the USSR to take up his old job. Shevardnadze was showered with praise by Western leaders, Left and Right alike, up until the moment when he was overthrown in the Western-orchestrated “Rose Revolution” at the end of 2003, after which he was denounced as a corrupt dictator."

A couple of loose cannons
You say "We should get Georgia and Ukraine into NATO asap. Then: They will continue yelling, boasting and threatening, we should go bowling."

Those two countries have had applications pending for a number of years now. But they've always been considered by NATO member countries to be of a lesser quality than any of the current membership. Both are demonstrably undemocratic, insolvent, HIGHLY corrupt and congenitally unstable.

Such governments are not the kinds of organizations anyone would want to be roped to by binding commitments to defend their interests against others, no matter whether they were right or wrong.

Surprisingly, Europeans tend to be very reticent when it comes to binding themselves to broadly defined mutual defense pacts. I think they may still remember what happened to them back in 1914.

overseas bases
This figure is quoted all over the place if you look it up, or see it inadvertently. But let's say it's not true by what...50% or even 75%, then there are still more than 100.
I think it should be 0 overseas bases.
Get back to me on how many you think there are, and how many you think there should be.

Lies travel faster than truth.
If it is quoted all over the place you should be able to provide a source.

It is certainly a point to debate whether the US should have bases in Germany, Japan and Korea. It would be lovely if the USA could have zero bases and the rest of the the world could do what it wanted. That was tried in the 1930s resulting in the deaths of millions.
Overseas bases are a necessity if the USA wants to effectively counter China, Russia and DPRK. Supporting forces in Afghanistan is difficult because of the lack of large airfields to deploy from. Aircraft carriers and tomahawk missiles can project power from sea and we do have bomber that can travel around the world, but there are few (B2).
The US has a working missile defense system that needs improvements and we could deploy space based systems. Also, non-nuclear ballistic missiles (thunder rods) are a great idea but if used,how does one avoid starting a nuclear war?
The impotence of the USA in recent pirate attack and in the Chinese force down of a P-3 indicates US power has political limits.
The first decision is should the USA protect its world wide economics interests? If so, how should that be accomplished? "Boots on the ground" has been the only proven way to effectively project power.
How many Russian bases would you accept in South America or Chinese bases in Africa?

Twisted or not, the hypocrisy is still there.
"That, to me, is a twisted response."

Sorry, but that's the price you Obama Kool-Aide drinkers have to pay now. All I am doing is applying the same 'standards' for dishing out crap to Obama as was done to Bush.

"Want to back somebody who puts his opponents in prison? Saakashvili's your man then."

yeah, Lincoln did the exact same thing. But he triumphed so the winning side could write the history books so that most people today don't even know about this little tyrannical fact of "Obama's favorite president".

"A more sensible way of addressing the question would not be to immediately cast this situation as a contest between D policies (not good) and R policies (good), as is typical among your brainless species, but rather to look into the realities of Georgian politics."

Sorry, but where were the Kool-Aide drinkers looking into the realities of Georgian politics instead of just bashing Bush for Bush-bashing sake before?

Same standards, Roy. Remember.

Lies travel
I don't agree with some of your assumptions.

Remember that even in WW11, some countries, like Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, etc. remained neutral countries with no ill effect.

Probably WW11 wouldn't even had started if the US had not gone into WW1.

Even if the naazzis had won against England in WW11, it doesn't follow that it would have hurt the US. In any case such a regime couldn't have lasted the 1000 years they though it would.

Nowadays Russia and Chian, like all big powers probably onely want to bully their neighbours and not take over the world.

'Protecting economic interests' is also not an excuse for all those....how many bases again? If you have free trade with all, as Jefferson proposed, it doesn't follow that you need to have massive military to protect it. Switzerland has massive economic dealings all over the world and needs no such forces. Brazil is about the 8th or so biggest economy and needs no such bases all over the world.

All trade, just like all relations between people should be voluntary.

I'm still angry that Jefferson got involved in that stupid Barbary Pirates War. If merchants could not protect themselves, they shouldn't have gone to such a dangerous place. If they can't protect themselves from priates nowadays in Somalia, they shouldn't go there either. But if allowed to protect themselves, the issue would be solved easily.


Pirates attack in international waters, anywhere.
If Perry had left the Japanese alone they may have never attacked anyone.
One can play 'what-ifs' all day.

We have the hand we were dealt today and how do you guarantee liberty survives another day given that so many, internal and external, want to destroy it?

Switzerland keeps all the money, has has a significant defense force and depends upon the ROW to keep stability abroad.

This is an idiotic argument to be making
"Sorry, but that's the price you Obama Kool-Aide drinkers have to pay now. All I am doing is applying the same 'standards' for dishing out crap to Obama as was done to Bush."

The hypocrisy charge won't stick. Policy on Georgia has remained unchanged between Bush and Obama. And in fact the person chiefly behind this policy, Robert Gates, has not changed either. Is it hypocrisy to blame the man for maintaining a consistent approach?

And it's a wise policy. Saakashvili's a thug.. and it can do our side no good at all in the arena of world opinion to back someone everyone understands is a cheap hoodlum. Comparing him to Lincoln doesn't help your cause.

Explain to us just how official policy toward Saakashvili has changed between this administration and the last one. If you can find any shade of difference, and link that difference to anything Obama has said, your pointless rant might have a chance at convincing.

Events may work themselves out
It looks as though South Ossetia's Edoard Kokoity is getting to be as much of an embarrassment to Russia as Georgia's Saakashvili is to the USA.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1328/42/377208.htm

Maybe both sides can just hash out their problems by themselves for a while.. and we can check back in with them once more popular regimes have established themselves.

Or, we can continue fighting some Cold War, exhorting the demons of our past to continue plaguing us.

Bashing Obama
It's a very misinformed world you inhabit if you think of me, or indeed anyone on the left, as being a "BHO fanatic".

I haven't heard of this Laura Varon Brown, whose politics sound kind of middle of the road.. but she's entitled to her opinion. Meanwhile the authentic left has been QUITE critical of the man since before he was even elected.

We've been cautiously hopeful in some areas. And certainly he's a vast improvement over our worst president ever. But the fact remains that he's an obvious stooge of Wall Street, not to mention of the war council that sits astride US policy no matter who is "in power".

Barack has always been fair game among the left. And it's the opinion of very nearly everyone I've read or spoken with that he's carefully laying the groundwork for a miserable disaster in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We hope we're wrong.. but know we have no reasonable basis for such a hope. It's almost as though Bush was still in charge of the effort. Plans for our disaster have not been altered. Stay the course.

pirates again
OK, even nowadays, I think that if a ship wants to pass thru a pirate infected place, they should be allowed to, and prepared to protect themselves.
And I think the US could have a policy of free trade with everyone, no entaglements with anyone, but if anybody f's with it, then they can defend themselves.

You don't approve of 'Government Motors'?
You applaud Hugo's nationalization, not BHOs?

" they can defend themselves. " From what?
You seem to imply the USA should have no military capability to attack such pirates.

pirates
Yes, that's right. In fact, the massive US military mostly DOESN'T as is. I think that it would be easy for mercant ships to protect themselves from those pirates.

Your same old tired argument
I know this tune so well I can sing right along with it. If I approve of anything Obama does, I must approve every last thing he does. And if I disapprove of anything he does, I must hate everything he does. No in between, ever.

First, no auto companies have been nationalized. Some banks have, and FNMA and FRMC have. Those outfits that have recently come under the federal umbrella were mismanaging their risk. Federal oversight can't help but be a vast improvment.

In your belief system, any time a company mismanages its business (and yours, if you have stock in it), it should fail and you should lose 100 cents on the dollar. In the service of an abstract ideal.

You can feel smug and superior until it's one of your own investments that goes belly up. Then you'll be yelling with the rest of them.

Breaking news: FNMA and FRMC were ALWAYS nationalized.
"In your belief system, any time a company mismanages its business (and yours, if you have stock in it), it should fail and you should lose 100 cents on the dollar. In the service of an abstract ideal."

This is called risk, reward and responsibility, or LIFE.

The end result of such socialism is no one will have any desire to risk because there will be no reward.

I agree, merchant ships must be able to defend themselves.

Actually, no
That's a common misconception. But if you look at the record, I think you'll find Fannie and Freddie were privatised back in 1968.

And they still worked well for another twenty years. But then, finally, the thieves crept in. The used and abused the system. And yes, mostly they were Democrats. But the fact is, the abuses occurred because there was inadequate government control.

One major problem was that they retained an implicit government guarantee-- and on that basis became increasingly free wheeling. But then everyone operates the same way, when they feel like Washington will think they're "too big to fail".

Look at the historic record. The two lending giants were backed by the government, but they weren't under government control. They were independent organizations.

As are, say, Detroit automakers and the major investment banks.

How many military bases?
Marjon, here's a list of US military bases overseas. Why don't you count them up yourself? Most people put the total well above 700, in something between 119 and 126 different foreign countries.

http://www.topsy.org/MilArWorld.html

The point the colonel is making is that we have both Russia and China closely surrounded with bases. If they are concerned with protecting their perimeter, I think such a concern might be justified. That's the reason Russia is hedging Georgia in so closely.

The United States has had quite a bellicose history since the end of WW Two. China, on the other hand, has decided to pursue profit, and maintain a military that's far from a challenge to US hegemony. China's stratagem is to pick off low hanging fruit, places like Myanmar and Vietnam. And to do so by NOT challenging their political leaders, but including them in increasing trade.

Our stratagem, on the other hand, has been to subvert the democratic process by putting our military might behind some autocratic local ruler. And forcing their inclusion into our economy on our terms.

I know that'll be a surprise to you. I assure you, it's not a surprise to the residents of every other nation on earth.

Now go off to find some obscure incident where a plane was forced down just off Chinese waters. And that, in your mind, will be equally egregious to our military domination of Asia.. beginning with our backing of Taiwan and occupation of the Phillipines, Japan and Korea.

You've posed a question: "How many Russian bases would you accept in South America or Chinese bases in Africa?"

So let me pose one in return: How many Russian or Chinese bases ARE there in Latin America and Africa?

Now the followup: How many US bases are there in Asia?

You have the list right in front of you. Please count them up.

Where to start looking
You can find the official list of bases, installations and depots in the United States, US possessions and worldwide, by looking for the Department of Defense Base Structure Report for 2007 (the latest year available). It's broken down by Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

There are a number of installations that do not appear on the report. These are mostly missions-- bases operated by host nations that have a US military presence. We send advisers and trainers along with our military hardware, to train the locals, supervise them and keep an eye on them.

We have such missions in nearly every country on earth. Places like Niger and Cameroon, that you won't find on the official Base Report.

When The 21st Century Began
The 20th century began with the guns of August in 1914. That is when the world changed and the old ways ended. That is when the old alliances, the old politics, the old thinking were smashed beneath the shells falling on the forts of Namur and the bullets smashing into horse and man in western and central Europe. We are now in the end days of the 20th century. The days of fret and worry. The days of denial and avoidance.

Russia is a dead state, an unliving collection of anger, need, and fear. A nation clinging desperately to a sham sovereignity that fools none. A country of lies covering rotting bones and flesh. It continues only because of an American establishment fearful at what is going to happen when it all comes apart, and a world reluctant to take action to prevent or even alleviate the impending holocaust.

Russia is afraid to appear weak in the face of enemies determined to see it destroyed. The world is afraid to arouse a sullen, brutal giant that only ever existed in the fervid imaginations of Russian and non-Russian sociological fantasists. A feeble beast maintaining control only through an extreme cruelty, and with the overt complicity of others so in love with the terror engendered by the experiences of the Second World War they refuse to take any measure at all to stop the final act of the tragedy begun at White Mountain in 1618.

Russia needs no one to collapse, only to continue as she has done. Nor will she do anything to change her course, for she has no one able to take the steps necessary to stop her violent end. Neither can we avoid our fate in this farce, for events will bring us in and change us irrevocably.

We are on the precipice of catastrophe. We try to continue as if nothing has changed we shall be changed in ways that will put an end to the American experiment. No matter what we do America will be changed, for better or worse depending on how we handle ourselves in the century to come.

The lights are going dark around the world, and they shall not be seen again until the old is swept away and a new world is born.

How is a 'government sponsored enterprise' NOT nationalization?

Or an oxymoron?

If you care to look, 'base' is not the correct term.
http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/bsr/BSR2008Baseline.pdf

page 79 starts the list is DoD sites around the world. Calling most of them 'bases' is not quite accurate.

164 acres in Antigua, 3200 sq ft in Aruba, 18,000 acres in Australia, 539 acres in Bahamas, ...

The vast majority of 'sites' are in Germany, Italy, ROK and Japan. All with the explicit permission of the host country, and in most cases, the host countries do not want the USA to leave.

BTW, the German air force trains in the USA and provided air cover during 9/11/01.

Sounds like the USA too
A lot of your comment could just as well describe the States.

Sounds like the USA too
A lot of your comment could just as well describe the States.

overseas bases
Let's say there are only 20 bases according to your definition; then I would still be against them.

When you say many of the bases are there with the permission of the host countries which don't want them to leave, really means the governments of those countries, not real people. Remember, it's governments that start wars, so of course their bias is pro-militarist.

I don't see where normal people thought it was a really good idea to start the Spanish-American War, or WW1, or any of the others.

Real people want US bases. (What happent to 700+ bases?)
Locals around most US bases want them to stay.

I was at Misawa AFB for a week when the base had an annual public 'picnic' selling hamburgers and hot dogs at US prices. The locals snapped them up at such low prices. Such activities occur at all foreign bases.

Why did you feel the need to hype the number of bases to make your case?

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