Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Ray Charles, the genius, performs a song about the conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia.

The U.S. corporate media keeps framing this battle in Cold War terms, and setting black hats or white hats on the actors involved depending on whether they are allied with Moscow or Washington, but it doesn't seem to be that simple. In fact, it's not simple at all, and the media isn't helping.

According to some, Georgia, the former Soviet republic and darling of the West, was encouraged to move into the breakaway pro-Russian enclave called South Ossetia and take back what is legally Georgia’s. But the plan failed. Instead, Russian forces invaded Georgia last week and crushed Georgian resistance. According to U.S. military officials, Russia is out to decimate the U.S.-trained Georgian armed forces. According to the military, it's pretty simple.

The Los Angeles Times (8/13/08): “Russia has itched to strike at southern neighbor Georgia’s brash, Western-oriented leader, President Mikheil Saakashvili. And Saakashvili gave the Kremlin an opportunity when he sent troops into the separatist region of South Ossetia last week in an effort to reassert Georgia’s sovereignty.”

A few media outlets reminded readers of Saakashvili’s crackdowns on dissent and independent media outlets, but for the most part, the conflict was presented as black-and-white struggle between Moscow’s aggression and Georgia’s pro-Western democracy.

According to Human Rights Watch, (8/14/08) Georgia’s military actions involved intensive shelling of civilian areas–reportedly caused many noncombatant deaths and prompted a large proportion of the South Ossetian population to seek safety in Russia.

This morning, NATO said regular contacts with Russia were impossible until its troops had been fully withdrawn from Georgia, and said they were "seriously considering" the implications of Moscow's actions. The White House had called on NATO nations to consider at least suspending ministerial meetings with Russia, but Britain and others said it would be counter-productive to cut channels of communication with Moscow now.

An alternate to the mainstream U.S. viewpoint can be found at the Guardian.

Some information from Peter Hart, who writes for the national media watchdog group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting)


Anonymous said...

Great comment! About time someone recognized Georgia's hands are dirty in this.

Stalin gave Ossetia to the Georgians, so now NATO debates how to best enforce Stalin's order. That's backwards. Give the Ossetians their freedom from Stalin's order just like Stalin's other victims got.

Georgia started this war in a sneak attack timed to the start of the Olympics. Curse them for that. This ugly war happened because the West ignored the prior war in which many thousands died, that ended in 1992 with Georgia agreeing not to take South Ossetia by force and Russia guaranteeing that if they did they would intervene militarily. It was both stupid and evil for Saakashvilli to break those 1992 accords that kept peace in the region and launch hot war again. It was doubly stupid for him to think that Russia, already itching for an excuse to slap Georgia, would not leap at the convenience of them being *required* to act militarily under the 1992 agreement guaranteeing South Ossetian self-rule.

The way forward from here does not start by pretending that prior peace agreements meant nothing and that Georgia's commitment not to use force on South Ossetia didn't matter. Shame on you Condi for whitewashing a sneak attack. Since when did enforcing Stalin's decisions and praising sneak attacks become US / NATO policy? Yeah, the Russians should back out of Georgia proper but any deal that does not guarantee the freedom Ossetians won in a bitter war isn't worth the propaganda paper it's written on.

Stalin giving Ossetia to the Georgians, praised by the West and the media:


Anonymous said...

My friend,

War is bad for all. Unfortunately for you, you do not know anything about Georgia and Caucasus. Read the books first and then make up your mind to write comments. And do not forget a pretty good thing - Honesty

Bob Rini said...

You two break it up!

Anonymous said...

I won't comment on the politics, but I will on the Genius. Bob, I saw him first when I was a teen at the San Jose Civic Auditorium....my big brother took me. But later I saw him in a one man show at the Stanford Ampitheater. He came out, played for 4 hours and then, graciously thanking the crowd for their patience, left. His last song was Georgia on my mind. The crowd was all in tears. This man was one of a kind.

Bob Rini said...

I saw Brother Ray in the early 1980s in Portland, and it was a fantastic show. He was awesome. He played with a band and you could tell he expected their best--at one point he even started a song over because something was wrong--the drummer, if I remember, must have been new, maybe filling in for someone, and was playing something fancy--and Ray stopped and very briefly instructed him on the correct drum pattern, and they went right back into it and it sounded great. He was a perfectionist, and he played on that level. Of course, I was embarrassed for that drummer, but these guys were pros and it was like sitting in at a recording session. I love Ray Charles, but he would have been a tough boss because he expected absolute perfection.