Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Georgian aggression is a figment of Putin's imagination

The general consensus on the Georgian crisis seems to be that although Russia is behaving like a thug and is unjustified, the crisis could have been averted if only the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, had not attacked the separatist forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, Bernard-Henri Lévy writes in today's Wall Street Journal that this is not so:
We know now that the Russian army had been hard at work on its war preparations since before Aug. 8. We know that it massed at the "border" between Georgia and Ossetia a considerable military and paramilitary logistical presence. We know the Russians had methodically repaired the railroad tracks that the troop-transport trains were to take, and we know that at least 150 tanks went through the Roky tunnel separating the two Ossetias the morning of Aug. 8. In other words, no one can ignore the fact that President Saakhashvili only decided to act when he no longer had a choice, and war had already come. In spite of this accumulation of facts that should have been blindingly obvious to all scrupulous, good-faith observers, many in the media rushed as one man toward the thesis of the Georgians as instigators, as irresponsible provocateurs of the war.
I was surprised that this sequence of events has not been made clearer in the Western media. Meanwhile, independent blogger and journalist Michael Totten, has been doing the honourable legwork.
Russia's Orwellian rhetoric must not be allowed to stand and the West needs to hit back hard in the face of Russia's violent, nationalistic and anti-democratic expansionism. At this point the push-back need not involve military retaliation, although I think the West should help Georgia rebuild its shattered armed forces and the US should go ahead with the developement of its missile shield (and, of course, military retaliation would be de rigueur if Russia escalates its aggression either in Georgia or starts another one in the Ukraine). What Europe needs to do (in addition to the more general goals of increasing our defence spending and investing heavily in nuclear energy) is to immediately kick Russia out of the G8 (as John McCain has suggested), officially state that Russia can forget about its application to join the WTO (for the time being), fast-track both Georgia's and the Ukraine's application to enter NATO and most importantly Germany needs to put the kibosh on the Nord-Stream pipeline while at the same time Europe must encourage the Nabucco pipeline and other projects like it. There is only one language regimes like Russia understand, and as Vegetius says: Si vis pacem, para bellum.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama's brother thinks the media is biased against McCain?

Instapundit has a discussion regarding Obama's laughable claim that Americans are selfish. The DC Examiner essay he links to quotes an interesting and cogently argued piece which should put this myth to rest once and for all (it appeared in The American, an excellent periodical published by the American Enterprise Institute).
In the context of this discussion, Glenn also links to a story which has been making the rounds about the fact that the Italian edition of Vanity Fair has identified one of Barack Obama's half brothers in a Kenyan slum.
Though this seems to me a trivial matter, I am intrigued by a minor detail: many news outlets have reported the story (which doesn't seem to be posted online at Condé Nast's Italian website) mentioning George Hussein Onyango's living conditions and quoting some of his thoughts. However the Italian press has reported that he said something I haven't seen in the English-language press. According to La Stampa:
Ma a differenza degli altri familiari di Barack, lui appare infastidito dal clamore che circonda il fratellastro: «Obama, Obama, sempre Obama, ma non dovreste parlare anche di McCain?», dice. E a chi gli chiede informazioni risponde che non sono neanche parenti: «Mi vergogno, c’è poco di cui vantarsi».
Which means (my translation):
However unlike Barack's other family members, he seems irritated by the media circus surrounding his half-brother: "Obama, Obama, always Obama; shouldn't they also talk about McCain?", he says. And to those who ask him for information he tells them they aren't even related: "I am ashamed, there's not much to brag about".
The same quotes also appear in Corriere della Sera and elsewhere. From other sources I take it he means he is ashamed of his own circumstances, not his brother. However it is still interesting that George Hussein Onyango's irritation (maybe resentment?) seems to have been brushed out of the English-language reporting.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Still paying the consequences

I sometimes wonder whether Jimmy Carter (whose brand of utter incompetence boggles the mind) ever feels guilty about the incredible number of disasters his policies have caused or at least inflamed. One example is the violent misrule of Zimbabwe by Robert Mugabe. James Kirchik goes over the history briefly in the Wall Street Journal to remind us of a litte known fact: the Rhodesian civil war would have reached a peaceful and democratic conclusion, if not for Carter's obtuseness.
The events of the past few months echo those of nearly 30 years ago, when Zimbabwe was a rebellious British colony called Rhodesia. In April 1979, three million blacks (64% of the native population) voted in the country's first multiracial election in hopes of putting an end to its brutal civil war between the white-led government and black liberation groups. After five days of balloting, the black Methodist bishop Abel Muzorewa was duly elected prime minister of the newfangled Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
Under the plan agreed to by the white government and moderate black leaders, whites would get 28 out of 100 parliamentary seats and retain control over some government agencies for 10 years. This was hardly a perfect compromise, but Zimbabwe-Rhodesia's "internal settlement" offered the best opportunity to end white supremacy and establish multiracial democracy.
Mugabe, the Chinese-funded, Marxist-Leninist guerilla leader, threatened to kill anyone who participated in that election. Militias led by him and Joshua Nkomo of the Zimbabwe African People's Union killed 10 people. While he claimed that the "internal settlement" was a "bourgeois" swindle, Mugabe really wanted to rule the country by force.
In solidarity with Mugabe and Nkomo, the administration of President Jimmy Carter refused to send election observers. Two weeks after Mr. Muzorewa was elected, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the administration to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, which President Carter ignored.
It's heartbreaking to think what might have been if the US had defended Zimbabwe's democratically elected government when it counted.