Secretary Rice: Leadership Through Negotiation in Georgia

Posted by Daniel Fried
August 25, 2008
Secretary Rice and President Saakashvili

About the Author: Daniel Fried is the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Russia's incursion into Georgia -- followed by the failure of Russian troops to withdraw from Georgian territory after Russian President Medvedev signed a Ceasefire agreement to do so -- has generated intense diplomacy and conceptual thinking over the past two plus weeks. Secretary Rice has led on both counts.

First, Secretary Rice helped seal the French-negotiated Ceasefire agreement by flying to Tbilisi and working with Georgia's leaders to get President Saakashvili to sign it. She worked with the French and Georgians to get clarifications of the ceasefire, without which the Georgians would not have signed. Her effort succeeded, appreciated by the French and Georgians alike. While the Russians have not yet adhered to terms of the Ceasefire, without her effort we would have no Ceasefire at all with which to push the Russians and achieve some stability.

Second, Secretary Rice focused the initial outrage and anxiety felt in Europe into a unified front at NATO in support of Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and the Ceasefire agreement. Anyone familiar with NATO's customary pace understands that we achieved a lot and achieved it fast.

Beyond these operational successes, Secretary Rice helped put Russia's invasion of Georgia into strategic context: Russia, she argued, was trying to behave like the Soviet Union toward Georgia (and other countries close to its borders), while still seeking the benefits of integration into the wider world. Her point, now increasingly accepted, is that Russia cannot have it both ways, and that Russia is in fact choosing a path of self-isolation due to its own actions, not punitive steps by others.

In any crisis, critics and pundits have a lot to say. Some argue the United States was too hard on Russia because we did not give Moscow a "sphere of influence" to dominate its neighbors. We plead guilty: the United States does not "give away" other countries, or sacrifice the freedom of other peoples for cynical calculation. That kind of thinking went out with the last century, and, to our credit, the United States never really embraced it.

Others say we have been too accommodating to Russia. But I would argue that the efforts of the last three Presidents to encourage and support Russia's integration into the world were certainly the right ones. If Russia has failed to make its own shift from imperial- and Soviet-style efforts to dominate its neighbors, that is Russia's choice, and Russia will have to live with the consequences: fear from its neighbors, suspicion from the world's advanced democracies, and isolation.

This crisis is not over. But Americans can be proud of the role their Secretary of State has played in responding to the most serious threat Russia has posed to European security and stability since the breakup of the Soviet Union.



Virginia, USA
August 26, 2008

DDS in Virginia writes:

Pathetic attempt to rationalize the failures of this administration. First an embrace of the guy whose soul our fearless leader looked into. Then inability to control the man we supported in Georgia-originally a democrat, and then just another leader trying to stay in power by cracking down on any opposition, media or otherwise.

So now we are forced to back up this impulsive leader and once again, we see the absolute failure of this administration to deal with foreign policy issues in a responsible way.

By the way, we sat back and let the French negotiate a ceasefire, while our Secretary sent a low-level minion. And now we trash the French for the deficiencies of that agreement.

Truly pathetic.

New Mexico, USA
August 26, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Assistant Secretary Fried,

I've had a fair amount to say and done my research on this issue, and I'm wondering what you think about the following assesment. Sometimes it's nice to get an official reality check, so thanks in advance.

"I think the only rational way to solve the underlying issues that lead to violence is to put the issue up for international arbitration. The parties themselves are too close to the problem to have the proper perspective to solve this themselves, obviously.

It's going to take a real clear eyed, independant, non aligned negotiator to lead that process.

Japan perhaps could, even China.

But without a peacekeeping force that has no vested interest except to keep the peace, this situation will flare up again in violence. Especially if the Russians don't withdraw completely from Georgia proper.

Eventually they will be facing a situation of armed insurgency otherwise.

And there's nothing that the West could do to prevent that, because the Georgian people won't put up with any Russian occupation very long. Protests have already begun.

There's a very limited time to put a lid on this for good and all, and the Russians need to understand this for their sake."


I'd just like to add that in no way am I dissing the Sec. of State's efforts, nor anyone else's to bring peace. I'm looking down the road a bit with this.

Best regards,

Tennessee, USA
August 26, 2008

Lawrence in Tennessee writes:

Working in the former Soviet countries of Belarus, Russia, and Tajikistan since 1993, I have learned a lot about Russian thinking. Mostly, their mindset that "Our (Slavic) people can not live under a Western style Democracy", has won. They excuse themselves from the hard work of building democratic institutions because of their "defeatest" mindset. Russian excuse their own bad behavior under this "Flag of Exception". Russia will become democratic only after this mindset is changed. This can be acheived through education but in the mean time, like a bad child, they must be punished for their bad behavior. Carrots will never force them to relook their own potential. Unfortunately, the same mindset is increasingly shared by almost all former Soviet countries. Follow the Turkish and Chineese model of opening "American Bording Schools" that offer accreditation and opportunities abroad for students who perform well. Staff the schools with 20% American teachers and establish a 20 year mindset to correcting the Slavic defeatest mindset that blocks out true democracy. Look at what Turkey and China are doing in this area in Tajikistan today.

Secondly, discontinue the policy that considers places like Tajikistan as "Hardship" tours for US foreign service professionals (Ambassadors, Consular officers, Etc.) I have seen these short terms undermine good representation of our democracy by rotating diplomats too frequently. Embassy workers are in country too short of a time to be able to learn the culture and build relationships.

Finally, the short terms of Embassy Staff feed in to a greater problem: A Corruption Bubble that surrounds all NGO and Embassy programs designed to win hearts and minds. How? The problem of corruption in former Soviet countries is the real problem! Nationals who work in or around the Embassy/USAID/NGO's from America and the west form a bubble of corruption that all nationals know about while Embassy and USAID staff live in denial of the problem. This is the problem that undermines most of our nation's good efforts to win hearts and minds. It should really be studied and corrected.

United States
August 27, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

My criticism of our policy is NOT related to the obsolete "spheres of influence" theory used to dominate former Soviet states, but is centered on the fact that neither NATO nor the US have given former Soviet states enough time to adjust their relationships with Russia, and not enough time for Russians to adapt to an entirely new economic system, before beginning our relentless meddling in East European politics and militarization of these tiny nations.

In disregarding deeply held Russian beliefs and attitudes, we have antagonized the Russians who initially looked to us in hope of friendship, trade, and an occasional helping hand to integrate into a world economy, only to find disappointment, discouragement, and exclusion. Russians can accept even that, but worry about being militarily surrounded by us and our allies. It does not matter whether their fear of us is rational or not, because for them it is real.

I suppose only a very few of us could understand this better if Russia had supplied nuclear weapons and missiles to Mexico in case Mexico was (again) invaded by America; or if Russia offered Canada membership in a new, Warsaw Pact, along with millions of dollars of arms and ammunition, in the event Quebec decided to declare independence. From the posts on this blog, most of us are so blinded by ethnocentrism that we cannot see this situation through Russian eyes. To avoid a war, we must begin looking at things from the Russian point of view and try to work with them in achieving better understanding of what they want and what we want.

Does it matter to people in Detroit or Peoria whether Georgia joins NATO? Is any conceivable US national interest involved if South Ossetia wins independence? Was our national interest served by Kosovo independence? In summary, are now we involved in things that are none of our business.

August 27, 2008

Akhteruzzaman in Bangladesh writes:

Dear sir,

The Incidents -- as i think ,was a test/exam of Russian armour and weapons power what USA wanted to observe and Secty.General C. Rice have handled efficiently and diplomatically for check and balance of russian gas diplomacy.

Connecticut, USA
August 27, 2008

George in Connecticut writes:

American response to Russian invasion was very weak. The main reason Georgia has been punished by Russia is for being US friend. We had to have strategy for defending our friends against slaughter by fascist states.

Tennessee, USA
August 27, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

QUTOE: This can be achieved through education but in the mean time, like a bad child, they must be punished for their bad behavior. END QUOTE.

What needs to be done is recognize Russia as the World Power it is again. You do nothing but create a worse situation by confronting a Russian with nothing to back your words up....Where did you reside in Russia? If you were in Romania, Poland or Lithuania, then you do not know the Russian mentality at all, much less Putins profile.

We need countermeasures. A good counter move and my guess is after North Koreas move, something else will come to play prior to elections here. Maybe we just need to ask Russia who they want as our President. We have NOTHING for them; we are economically deficit and have no negotiating power. If we did, we would have used it by now. As the second largest holder of oil in the world, they can simply use the Euro dollar as exchange and not give a darn about how much we owe them. That is how Russians think?not as a child, but in end game.

Given the fact we have made no strong actions of any kind beyond words, my guess is, they will push a little further -- and why not?

By the way, Regan dropped the why did someone bring it up? That is fact...

August 27, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Lawrence

Your post and views are very interesting Lawrence. Please let me contribute with some "notes-queries".

1. What do you mean by the term "Nationals"? when you write:
"Nationals who work in or around the Embassy/USAID/NGO's from America and the west form a bubble of corruption that all nationals know about while Embassy and USAID staff live in denial of the problem".

2. You write that: "I have seen these short terms undermine good representation of our democracy by rotating diplomats too frequently".

You are right that the ideal would be exactly what you say: "Embassy workers to be able to learn the culture and build relationships".
But how much possible is this and "when" it starts to become dangerous for the prime DoS scope, which is to help them serve as better as they can in order to achieve the best possible diplomatic results?

According to my opinion, it would be impossible for DoS to do it in a different way.

First, there are security reasons: You cannot use the same guys, at same places, for a very very long time. It's? "dangerous" in this "business"!

But the most important is that when you have to serve in places like "hell" -- and there are more than 50 of such areas-countries in the Globe -- you have to offer diplomats, from time to time, a chance to "recover", otherwise they will quit any "effort" due to bad everyday conditions they have to face. After all, they are human beings...

You cannot have them "imprisoned" for years, living in compound blocks, having to face everyday dangers, far away from their families and homes, etc.

3. You write that "Carrots will never force them to relook their own potential".

I strongly agree with you and that's why I strongly disagree with Zharkov in the U.S.A. that suggests us to "help them build an ever better economy" than he is attempting to persuade us that they already have, by selling their products within the States etc. (Besides, what products? Do they have anything at all, except oil and gas that -- Eric you are absolutely right -- they can only sell if only E.U. is willing to buy?)

So, according to my opinion too, Lawrence: anything concerning the Russians or the ex-Soviets "can be achieved through education, but in the mean time, like a bad child, they must be punished for their bad behaviour" in order to learn proper democratic behaviour rules.

It will take time though and meanwhile we should not be so sure that plenty of "hidden communistic talents" in ex-Soviet areas do not STILL love their ex-fiance Russians.

Best Regards!

August 27, 2008

Cyril in Russia writes:

Russia becomes a new Soviet Union and it is the serious threat for all Western democracies and the Western values and lifestyle. I am a russian citizen and I want to say that here in Russia I feel the smell of police state, things that are normal for dictatorships. President Medvedev has no real power, and Putin remains a real head of state. Russian tv doesn't show international reaction on the actions of Russia, they show only one point of view on this conflict, the point of view of the government. And our government now is a dictator Putin (who stands behind all actions of Medvedev),the Ministry of defense and the Federal Security Service(FSB). I have not seen FREE elections in Russia since 2000. All, which were after that time were without choice.

About corruption. If you live in Russia, you can't do anything against unlawful decisions and actions of Russian militia(police), army and even medical service, which is 100% under state control. Even if you have your own business, you can't be political, because official power will arrest you! (Remember Khodorkovsky and even Roman Abramovich who was forced to leave governor's place).

So, finally. Russians' minds are full of ideas of the rising Russia, which is standing from her knees! Here everybody knows that Russia has HUGE amount of oil and gas and Western countries are dependent from them. And officials here now feel that they can do anything in the foreign policy because there will be no SERIOUS or STRONG answer, just some words against. This tendency is very dangerous and Western states must point Russia on her place! Even because there are some people(I can count them with fingers of my hand) who still loves freedom and wants to life in free country which is the part of the world. Thank You! AND GOD BLESS DEMOCRACY!!!

United States
August 27, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

As Cyril in Russia has written, government officials who feel they can do anything they wish without fear of retaliation, are a threat to democracy. If only the average American felt the same!

This week we have massive crowds protesting the democrat convention and not one mention of it in the t.v. news, not a single photo, no news coverage whatsoever -- it is as if the hundreds of people in the streets in Denver never existed -- they are non-people as far as our news media is concerned. We know they are there because private individuals have placed photos of them on websites, and a few internet news people have done stories about the clashes between protestors and police. Do we see any similarities between America and Soviet Russia or China?

Every poll taken shows the American public does not want us to occupy Iraq, yet we continue to occupy Iraq. Our government does what it wishes, without fear of retaliation, because it can, and many people wonder whether Bush has any real power or whether Cheney is the real head of state. How does this compare with the Soviet Union?

Regarding corruption, the only people with real power to stop corruption in American government are the offices of the U.S. Attorney General and regional U.S. Attorneys, and we all know what happened to them under the Bush and Clinton Administrations. How does this compare with the Soviet Union?

Russia can become a free country unless we convince them that they need a strong dictatorship to defend them against us. Surrounding Russia with NATO, missile shields, and sanctions, gives Russian leaders the excuse they need to increase control and suppress dissent. We should be experts in unintended consequences by now and foresee this outcome before we go too far.

Tennessee, USA
August 27, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Seems I was correct...What did Russia do yesterday? Pushing again.

Even here in the US we have separations of Leaderships and variances between monetary levels, regardless of who is in power. It is not always about Democracy, it is about Leadership. People anywhere can make a difference and that is what American Democracy originally did and still best represents.

What is missing from most premises here is that should realize that we are all universal in one method or another and how we impute each other is a larger view.

It may be easier for the world to work with a simplistic version of Good vs. Evil to maintain existence rather than more independent versions of Poor democracies; which work like the false religions hiding under a banner they really do not represent except by word only.

This same view has become more relevant even in criminal activities. When there was one basic group controlling crime here in the US, it was much simpler to find answers. Unfortunately, money became God and loyalties became less dependable. When dissolved for the most part, it was all replaced with ten groups for the one lost. This made control and information gathering 10 times more difficult and more costly.

To view it in the same manner as our Russian counterpart, the criminal activity in America, combined with more aggressive passive crime and civil sentences as well as new Homeland security laws makes even America look like a police state. We have the highest percentage of adult population in jails than any other major civilized population. What represents a free and democratic society in that aspect? If our freedom puts more people in jail, than are the parameters and extent of freedoms too liberal for the society? Would more governmental control and tighter laws governing moral and civil conduct be better?

The point is any society today has negatives which, while credible, do not necessarily reflect the overall Government of that Nation. Putin is about Russia, American Leaderships are about Democracy -- that is the only real difference.

Now if you think about it, perhaps this is why one party is being showcased more than another because Americans think America for Americans is more important right now, so where does that leave us? That one party cared too much about democracy somewhere else? Where will it leave the world in three months? But, we do have a choice and either way, America will still be about promotion of a democratic society anywhere.

Putin is as predictable as American leadership decisions in all actuality. We simply are too trusting and arrogant to believe differently, which is why we were not prepared.

I worked for a successful American who was a proud Russian immigrant most of my life, as did my family. It was an honor to know him and special to have his oversight, friendship and brotherhood. I was also privy to being in some of those questionalble places in time....Russias leadership only changed in name while THEY changed the game. Do not think otherwise.

New Mexico, USA
August 27, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Yeah you're right Joe, the Russians are "pushing"....themselves deeper into a hole they've dug for themselves.

Changed the game? I think rather they've decided to play a worn out one from last century and that didn't exactly work out for them, now did it?


@ Cyril in Russia,

Finally I am witness to some Russian common sense in your post. Thank you for that, and please stick around.

This discussion will be better for it.

I can only hope your level of sanity is contagious in Russia's population.

Then maybe we'll see something good happen eventually.

Remember, while your government has the guns, the people have the numbers, and that's where the real power lies when circumstance forces the people to take to the streets and change the will of their government, or simply the government itself.

If you want change, you'll have to fight for it. Freedom is never a free ride.

Our friend Zharkov has this illusion that he lives in the "Soviet utopia of America".

I think you are in a unique position to buy him a clue...(chuckle).


New Mexico, USA
August 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece,

Embassies often hire locals (foreign nationals) to work in the Embassy in various capacities.

They are typicly screened, background checks etc. , but the human condition being what it is, temptation to use such a position for personal gain outside the embassy, influence, favors , among the local population by these employees is inherant.

It boils down to an individual's ethics.

The solution is better monitoring of these employees.

I posted a link on the question of the week to a speach given by the UK foreign minister that I think you will find interesting in regards to what I said about economic leverage the EU has on Russia.

Quite interesting in fact.

Gasprom lost 19 billion in net worth on Russia's stock market within the last two weeks.

That's got to hurt.

Maryland, USA
August 28, 2008

Richard in Maryland writes:

State Department info on Georgia has texts of lots of statements, but I cannot find the text of the ceasefire agreement, which would be very helpful in understanding the situation.

New Mexico, USA
August 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Correction to my previous post;

"Gasprom lost 19 billion in net worth on Russia's stock market within the last two weeks."


"Finally, Russia needs to ask itself about the relationship between short term military victories and longer term economic prosperity.

At the time of the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968 no one asked what impact its actions had on the Russian stock market. There was no Russian stock market.

Now, Russia can ill afford not to ask that question. Russia's economy has been growing at about 7 per cent a year for the last seven years. But no country can live in isolation in a globalised world, not even a very rich one. Certainly not one whose population is falling by some 800 000 a year with underinvestment and inequality rampant.

Meanwhile the conflict in Georgia has been associated with a sharp decline in investor confidence. In one week Russia?s foreign exchange reserves fell by 16 billion dollars. In just one day the value of Gazprom fell by the same amount. Prime Minister Putin's attack on the coal and steel producer Mechel shook investors; and risk premia have sky-rocketed."

- David Miliband, UK Foreign Secretary



Cyril in Russia wrote:

"So, finally. Russians' minds are full of ideas of the rising Russia, which is standing from her knees! Here everybody knows that Russia has HUGE amount of oil and gas and Western countries are dependent from them."

That is the general perception Cyril, but I wonder what the Russian people will think when they realize their own government has just cut themselves off at the knees just as it was beginning to stand up and become a prosperous nation in partnership with the family of nations.

Such losses are not sustainable by any nation no matter how wealthy. Folks in Europe would rather freeze than be blackmailed by Russia, but they won't have to as they find alternative markets to purchase from.

This loss did not come as a result of any western government action, but as a private sector response to investment risk.

In a curious way, this may also partially explain Joe's question of why the price of oil has not gone through the roof.

If Russia is not concerned about this type of economic impact, it should be.

I'm sure the Russian people don't wish to return to breadlines and economic stagnation.

Indiana, USA
August 29, 2008

Ted in Indiana writes:

Mr. Fried,

Your statement that the US does not "give away" other countries is absolutely absurd and an example of propaganda of the worst kind. This type of historical lying is the reason why the US State Department is the most incompetant and damaging organization in the entire government. Here is a historical list of regions and countries that the US has "given away" since WW2:
Eastern Europe
El Salvador

In addition, the US actively participated in the destruction of a sovereign nation: Yugoslavia. All of these statements that the US respects the territorial integrity of sovereign nations is a monsterous lie worthy of anything that came out of Hitler's Ministry of Propaganda. The US has been squatting on Guantanamo Bay for almost 50 years and it says it respects territorial integrity. Why don't you stop your lying and start behaving like a responsible government of grown-ups, rather than the childish, spoiled brats that you are?! You occupy Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo. You are the new Kremlin of the world.

New Mexico, USA
August 29, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Richard in Maryland,

Peace agreement between Russia and Georgia



It revolves around the following points:

the non-use of force

the definitive cessation of hostilities

free access for humanitarian aid

the withdrawal of the Georgian military forces to their usual bases

the withdrawal of Russian military forces to the lines they held before hostilities broke out. While waiting for an international body, the Russian peacekeeping forces will implement additional security measures

the opening of international discussions on the modalities of security and stability in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


We stand by the terms of the six-point agreement and those in President Sarkozy's letter on August 16, namely:

that these "additional security measures" will be implemented only in the immediate vicinity of South Ossetia, to the exclusion of any other part of Georgian territory;

that they may be implemented only within a zone a few kilometers deep, inside the administrative boundary between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, such that no urban center is included, that special arrangements must be defined to guarantee freedom of movement and circulation along Georgian road and railways;

that they shall consist of patrols carried out exclusively by Russian peacekeeping forces at the level authorized by the existing arrangements, the other Russian forces withdrawing to their positions prior to August 5 in accordance with the protocol agreement;

that they shall be provisional pending the establishment as soon as possible of the "international mechanism," the nature and mandate of which are already under discussion in various international bodies, in particular the OSCE, the European Union and the United Nations.



These excerpts are derived from a couple pages on the site and the basic description of the points are copied here verbatim.

When in doubt, simply go directly to the source.

New Mexico, USA
August 29, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Here's a theory:

Putin has accused the US of having US personel in the combat zone in Georgia, citing military reports to that effect...still to be confirmed, as he put it in a CNN interview.

Some 2000 Georgian troops serving in Iraq were airlifted back to Georgia under existing agreement by the US.

Well, they wouldn't have arrived in their civvies.

And I'm thinking the Russian military may have mistaken their Iraqi battle fatigues (which if I understand correctly one of the Georgian conditions to go to Iraq was being fully equiped by the US to fulfill the mission), for US soldiers, instead of Georgians in US supplied clothing.

It's just a wild thought I had prior to my morning coffee, but certainly somewhat more rational than Putin's accusing the US of starting the conflict for the sake of bolstering the chances of one of the presidential candidates.

By way of evidence, the Russians say that they found a US passport of a male individual in the rubble of a village outside Tskhinvali, where a Georgian special forces unit had been based during the war.

I'd say it was quite a stretch to make these accusations based on the assumption that one guy could have initiated all this , when the evidence strongly suggests Russian troops and armor were already crossing into South Ossetia prior to hostilities being waged.

Seems to me that if a nation is going to make these kinds of accusations, that they would arm themselves with more substantial evidence and confirm the facts prior to any statement.

Heck, what if the guy was just a tourist caught up in circumstance? Russia would look pretty stupid.

And even if a US gov. employee, where's the connect to Putin's speculative remarks about influencing a presidential race.

I think rather that he's trying to influence the US election himself, because one of the candidates has suggested Russia may not be worthy to be a member of the G8.

That seems far more logical to me than anything else.

Since WW2 when Stalin chose to view the folks that helped him kick Nazi butt as Russia's ideological enemy, and took Russia on a very bad acid trip for the next 40+ years, it seems that they've been suffering flashbacks every so often since they "sobered up" in the late 80's and we see now some rather severe hallucinations of their role as a "peacekeeper".

A have a perscription for their psycosis;

A strong dose of "GET A GRIP"

United States
September 1, 2008

Chou in U.S.A. writes:

I am sorry to say, Russia has every right to attack Georgia since they have attacked first. Russia shows more restraints than US by not overthrowing the Corrupt and stooge regime of Georgia. America instigated this crisis and they are fully responsible for this and like other crisis in the world. I am glad that Russia is coming to the picture now and trying to rein in the autocracy and neo con ideas of US. America should stop butting into other people's business.

Virginia, USA
September 3, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

2 September 08


We as People of this great world cannot afford to continue having wars and battles because people have disagreements or arguments on how a country should be runned.

We should all find solutions to problems, communicate and above all show common respect for world leaders.

We all including Russia and Georgia need to figure out what went wrong? Identify Russia's positon! Identify Georgias positon! Before the crisis took place. We have diplomats who are suppose to help cool the tensions with other nations and find peaceful solutions to prevent war from even happening.

What is the purpose of the International Space Station? If we can't get along on earth, we sure will not get along in space in future. Which means political leaders need to show more tact and use more diplomacy in dealing with other nations. We will never have Peace on Earth unless people are willing to make the right change and focus on our own problems we face in the United States.

I think the Russian Leaders and United States President George W. Bush should have a meeting and discuss the issues in person and try to resolve and diffuse the situation at hand between Russia and Georgia. Make it a week long meeting, but make it a productive meeting to find a common ground between our two nations. I understand that both sides might be stubborn to this meeting. For the sake of humanity and people of Georgia I believe this would be fruitful if both sides agreed. Another words stop rattling swords and sit down and talk to each other before more problems exist when a dinner or a lunch meeting might get a peace deal for all parties. Then everyone wins!

God Bless and lets hope we all can make peace and bring harmony to this wonderful world we live in today!

New Mexico, USA
September 3, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Chou,

You may want to see what the fellow that started this thread has to say on the matter, because he knows what he's talking about.


@ Assistant Sec. Fried,

I know you're a busy public servant, and may not have the time to answer my questions, but right at the moment we seem to be at a crossroads, and the choice for both Russia and western nations is basicly "Where do we go from here?" and "How do we go about getting to where we need to be to keep the peace?"

It's a critical time.

I don't know that what I could bring to the table would be useful, but it would be unique. A perspective the Russians might not get from anyone else, given my family history.

I don't believe freezing arms reductions talks and leaving it for the next admon. is the right way to go at the moment as I believe it would be a missed opportunity to turn what is becoming an increasingly strained relationship around to a more constructive one.

Please consider this; I'm probably among a dozen or so people in the world still living who has held a piece of "trinitite" in my hands. This is the fused sand from the first atomic explosion. Bubbled green glass, encased in leaded crystal, given to the department heads and leading scientists at Los Alamos at the end of WW2 including my granddad.

The rest has been bulldozed underground at the site in White Sands. It is the most concrete example I can show any one of the risk of nuclear war, or the results of it. Any leader holding this potential future in hand, will have something to remember, and think about.

My granddad had it on his roll top desk as a paperweight, and it was on the fireplace mantle as I grew up as a child. In 1970, my dad took a geiger counter to it and while it set it off, it was not dangerously hot, being encased as it was. My dad still has this piece of history that my family was a part of. If it would serve to inspire peace, among world leaders, to see and hold it in hand, I believe he'd appreciate that as much as I would. I think granddad would also, were he with us today.

I can't think of a better visual aid to ask a simple question of the Russian leadership.

"What do we wish to create for everyone's future, this? And will we continue to accept this reality as future potential for both our peoples instead of making absolutely certain it never becomes our fate?"

That the question I'd like to bring to the table, face to face. Just maybe having a citizen asking it instead of a gov. employee will illicit no misunderstanding of intent in the asking.

If this strikes you as having some merit, you'all know where to contact me.

Thanks for your consideration.

United States
September 5, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Mr. Fried said the Russians are "trying to delegitimize any military support for Georgia -- a country that Russia has attacked," adding that U.S. "military cooperation" with Georgia will continue "carefully" and "responsibly."

The obvious question any thinking Russian would ask is, what is the real purpose of arming small nations on Russia's border?

If the goal is to resist a future Russian invasion, then the goal is impossible because Georgia is too small to resist a major military force.

If the purpose is to allow Georgia to join NATO, what benefit would NATO membership be to the people of Georgia, when membership can get them killed in the crossfire between NATO and Russia in a future war?

In the Russian mind, there is a huge logical gap between what the US is doing in Georgia and what the US is saying to Russia about what it is doing.

The Russian government has cooperated in everything requested by the US, so it seems fair to ask the our side to cooperate in matters important to Russia, and keeping NATO away from Russian borders is not too much to ask.

Is there anything stopping Georgia and other former Soviet states from forming their own mutual defense organization if they wish? Could that type of organization avoid any problems the Russians have with NATO encroaching too closely?

NATO has gotten along without former Soviet states since it was created, so why the urgency to have them join now?

Is there something planned that requires Russia to be encircled by NATO members armed with the latest weaponry despite the horse-cart economies of former Soviet states?

How will NATO tanks, missiles, and bombers, help Georgian farmers to grow their crops?

Why are we arming rural nations when they have no real enemies other than poverty and corrupt governments?

Do we know what we are doing to them?

New Mexico, USA
September 7, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I think you are forgetting something here Zharkov, that is a process of logical deduction.

And the context of the facts.

Bear with me a moment and I think it will become clear to even you.

To date, the only US military hardware the Russians are putting on "parade" from their adventures in Georgia are 4, maybe 5 humvees the call "war trophies". ( DOD is appropriately enough, "sending them a bill". Unquote.)

Seems if we were training and equiping a brigade of Georgian troops to go into Iraq as part of the Coalition, they would need to get familiar with the general mode of transport there. Therefore you have a few in Georgia for such purposes.

Let's just put aside for a moment that with all the fuss Russia is making about a US warship offloading humanitartian supplies and alleging it is really transporting arms; one would have to think that if they had actually found any offensive US hardware (such as large calber morters, field guns, etc.) that they too would be on public display.

Is NATO an offensive force? In other words, does it actually have sufficiant first strike capability to be a direct threat to Russia? And most importantly, was it intended to become one?

I can only think that given that it was like pulling teeth to get some NATO members to contribute actual combat troops to Afghanistan, that NATO is not even inclined to leave it's own backyard, let alone invade it's next door neighbor.

So much for intent.

The founding of NATO was defensive in nature, and even a half hearted Google search will reveal the historical data on this, so I need not reiterate the details here.

As to capability, neither Russia nor NATO could achieve enough of an element of suprise for it to make a difference. Because the whole concept of "first strike" in any preemptive capacity is to neutralize the the opponent's offensive capability.

With any serious missile defence capability that would change the nature of this parameter many decades away, complaint to the effect that Russian offensive capability is somehow compromised rings hollow at best.

The facts just don't support it.

In regards to any future war you may contemplate Zharkov, it won't happen as a result of any nation joining NATO.

In my opinion, Russia should join NATO.

Because it should be quite obvious by now that NATO membership does not limit soverign rights to self defense.

It has proven to protect territorial integrity of nations.

And most importantly fostered cooperative participation in global security in crisis and conflict situations.

The internal struggle between those in Russia who wish a "multipolar world" in lieu of the ultimate handshake and a permanent end to the post-post cold war mistrust is real.

Such intent breeds mistrust when Russian actions on the ground support the premis that those who want confrontation with NATO are creating it.

So how does one supporting Russia's claims of Georgian agression explain away the fact that S. Ossetian militias lead by Russian officers were shelling Georgian positions in the days prior to any Georgian "offensive" on Aug.7, 2008? Indeed the US did caution srongly to all sides not to provoke, nor to react to provocation.

Let there be no doubt Zharkov, I meant what I said about forensic evidence telling the tale...

How does one who supports Russian claims of Genocide explain away the total lack of evidence to support it?

I think you would have posted it here by now.

Instead, sat photos I've posted the links to previously on Dipnote show the burning of Georgian homes by S. Ossetian militia. Such acts are considered "ethnic cleansing" , directed at civilian populations, and considered to be war crimes by the international community, as outlined in international law, and legal precedent.

It's not for you to answer these questions Zharkov, even if you had one. The Russian gov. is the only one that can.

They've earned the mistrust of nations and they know what they need to do, not say, but do to resolve it becoming harmful to their own national interests.

United States
September 8, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Afghanistan does not border the "North Atlantic", was never part of the USSR, and is one possible example of NATO offensive capability. NATO attacks where and when it chooses. Does NATO have "first strike" capability? Of course it does.

Is NATO an offensive force? What do you think NATO did in Serbia, Eric? If you think NATO is harmless, just ask any Serb. NATO Bombing Yugoslavia should end the irrational idea that NATO is purely defensive.

Russia believes it is in the process of being set up for attack by NATO encirclement, consequently, Russia's top military leaders have warned us that they will commence a nuclear first strike in Europe.

Pat Buchanan has written that Russian leaders do not bluff. He said if they say they will do something, they will do it. He should know because he was in the Nixon Administration. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and said the same thing. Former Secretary of State Albright of the Clinton Administration said similar things and added she would have gone directly to Moscow immediately to explain.

So our current government is willing to roll the dice, pretend they didn't hear the roar of the bear, and continue their game, but it seems to me that game is over.

If this Secretary of State and President are not getting the message, they will succeed in getting us killed.

They, of course, have nuclear shelters for survival, but what do you and I have? I'll tell you -- nothing! America's civil defense program was quietly abandoned decades ago. We are fully exposed to a nuclear first strike and only the highest level government officials have any chance of survival. In case you haven't noticed, there are Russian nuclear-armed subs sitting just off our coastline.

While Moscow and Beijing are building entire cities underground in tunnels for their people to survive a nuclear war, our government is unconcerned about our survival in that event. This is why their games are so important to us.

The Bush Administration is playing Russian Roulette with our lives when it pushes NATO up against Russia, and people with very high level government service are trying to warn them. I find it remarkable that a certifiably insane foreign policy has so many supporters outside the asylum.

United States
September 8, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

This is "Leadership through Negotiation" or is this something else entirely?

Georgia used state-of-the-armed foreign-made weapons against South Ossetia

The press service of Russia's Military Prosecutor's Office quotes this country's Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky as saying that during its recent aggressive attack on South Ossetia, Georgia used state-of-the-art foreign-made weapons. Fridinsky has visited South Ossetia and Abkhazia recently. According to him, Russian peacekeepers have seized, besides Soviet-made arms and military hardware, great numbers of hardware and small arms that have been manufactured in the United States, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and other countries, including brand-new weapons that were made earlier this year.

Dick Cheney Seeks War on Russia
By: Ian_Brockwell

Following a three-day visit to former Soviet States Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine, Dick Cheney continued his thinly disguised threats against Russia and sought backing for stronger action against a country that was forced to defend its citizens recently, following an attack by US ally Georgia.

The gall of this man and other members of the Bush administration seem to have no limits. Is it really possible that anyone can take his remarks seriously when he accuses Russia of "bullying others"? Are we supposed to believe that the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are nothing more than a friendly helping hand? Is the pressure and sanctions being applied to Iran not "bullying"? And what about the recent trips into Pakistan?s sovereign territory to kill some more civilians, what are we supposed to call that?

New Mexico, USA
September 8, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

It is well documented that NATO involvement in the Balkans was to protect populations. Thus defensive in nature.

Russia used the same argument to invade Georgia, but the facts on the ground indicate populations were not protected.

Face facts Zharkov.

The Russian Gov. has just assured Sarkozy that they will comply with the terms of the ceasefire and withdraw all troops from Georgia proper and agreed to negotiations on the areas in dispute.


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