Spiegal Spills The Beans

Blogging pal, Al Devito, at “Vineyard Views” is right to consider a subscription to the German magazine, Der Spiegal, a worthwhile investment. It’s standard of journalism is usually excellent, and hits hard at the heart of matters the US media are often loathe to touch.

Two recent articles are particularly worthy of note. The first, a rather lengthy essay, entitled, “America Loses Its Dominant Economic Role” is linked to by the Vineyard and contains some, almost amusing, world leaders’ views of the final decline of George W Bush while at his last UN General Assembly meeting.

Here’s a snippet to whet the appetite:

There are days when all it takes is a single speech to illustrate the decline of a world power. A face can speak volumes, as can the speaker’s tone of voice, the speech itself or the audience’s reaction. Kings and queens have clung to the past before and humiliated themselves in public, but this time it was merely a United States president.

Or what is left of him.

George W. Bush has grown old, erratic and rosy in the eight years of his presidency. Little remains of his combativeness or his enthusiasm for physical fitness. On this sunny Tuesday morning in New York, even his hair seemed messy and unkempt, his blue suit a little baggy around the shoulders, as Bush stepped onto the stage, for the eighth time, at the United Nations General Assembly.

He talked about terrorism and terrorist regimes, and about governments that allegedly support terror. He failed to notice that the delegates sitting in front of and below him were shaking their heads, smiling and whispering, or if he did notice, he was no longer capable of reacting. The US president gave a speech similar to the ones he gave in 2004 and 2007, mentioning the word “terror” 32 times in 22 minutes. At the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, George W. Bush was the only one still talking about terror and not about the topic that currently has the rest of the world’s attention. [The global economic crisis ~ RJA]

“Absurd, absurd, absurd,” said one German diplomat. A French woman called him “yesterday’s man” over coffee on the East River. There is another way to put it, too: Bush was a laughing stock in the gray corridors of the UN.

The American president has always had enemies in these hallways and offices at the UN building on First Avenue in Manhattan. The Iranians and Syrians despise the eternal American-Israeli coalition, while many others are tired of Bush’s Americans telling the world about the blessings of deregulated markets and establishing rules “that only apply to others,” says the diplomat from Berlin.

But the ridicule was a new thing. It marked the end of respect…….[1]

Der Spiegal runs another article in the same issue. It concerns the now almost forgotten conflict in Georgia/South Ossetia, when Russian forces moved into that nation to protect its citizens from the military of Georgia’s American-trained lawyer president, Mikhail Saakashvili.

A Sparrow Chat article on the Georgian crisis, entitled, “The Great Chess Game”, (August 11th, 2008) concluded that Georgia had attacked South Ossetia, intending to take back the province by force, only to be overwhelmed by the Russian army dashing to aid the majority of its citizens who make up the South Ossetian populace.

The action was considered calculated on Vladimir Putin’s part; a master chess move designed to draw a line in the sand over which NATO should never cross.

The article ended:

Saakashvili is almost certainly finished politically. South Ossetia will remain independent. Eventually, the conflict will calm down like an expired squib. Russia will retain its influence, the West retire to lick its wounded pride, and the great Soviet chess master will no doubt quietly gloat over his latest triumph.[2]

In the interim, the Western powers have moved heaven and earth to condemn the Russians for their actions, accusing them of deliberate aggression against their smaller neighbor. They’ve propped up Saakashvili, sent US gunboats to the area and flown in unnecessary aid, as props for a photo-opportunity, rather than to save the already well-fed Georgians.

It seems, though, the tide is now beginning to turn, and Georgian president Saakashvili may well be carried away on the ebb.

Der Spiegal:

“Today, we are all Georgians,” Republican presidential candidate John McCain declared. The neoconservative commentator Robert Kagan compared the Russian action with the Nazis’ 1938 invasion of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. And in a meeting with US Vice President Richard Cheney, Saakashvili was assured of Washington’s support for his most fervent wish: admission to NATO.

But now, five weeks after the end of the war in the Caucasus, the winds have shifted in America. Even Washington is beginning to suspect that Saakashvili, a friend and ally, could in fact be a gambler — someone who triggered the bloody five-day war and then told the West bold-faced lies. “The concerns about Russia have remained,” says Paul Sanders, an expert on Russia and the director of the conservative Nixon Center in Washington. His words reflect the continuing Western assessment that Russia’s military act of revenge against the tiny Caucasus nation Georgia was disproportionate, that Moscow violated international law by recognizing the separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and, finally, that it used Georgia as a vehicle to showcase its imperial renaissance.

But then Saunders qualifies his statement: “More and more people are realizing that there are two sides in this conflict, and that Georgia was not as much a victim as a willing participant.”

It would appear that evidence has now established Saakashvili was lying when he accused Russia of an unprovoked attack. NATO investigations are beginning to uncover the truth.

Der Spiegal:

According to this [NATO] intelligence information, the Georgians amassed roughly 12,000 troops on the border with South Ossetia on the morning of Aug. 7. Seventy-five tanks and armored personnel carriers — a third of the Georgian military’s arsenal — were assembled near Gori. Saakashvili’s plan, apparently, was to advance to the Roki Tunnel in a 15-hour blitzkrieg and close the eye of the needle between the northern and southern Caucasus regions, effectively cutting off South Ossetia from Russia.

At 10:35 p.m. on Aug. 7, less than an hour before Russian tanks entered the Roki Tunnel, according to Saakashvili, Georgian forces began their artillery assault on Tskhinvali. The Georgians used 27 rocket launchers, including 152-millimeter guns, as well as cluster bombs. Three brigades began the nighttime assault……..

The [NATO] intelligence agencies conclude that the Russian army did not begin firing until 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 8, when it launched an SS-21 short-range ballistic missile on the city of Borzhomi, southwest of Gori. The missile apparently hit military and government bunker positions. Russian warplanes began their first attacks on the Georgian army a short time later. Suddenly the airwaves came to life, as did the Russian army.

Russian troops from North Ossetia did not begin marching through the Roki Tunnel until roughly 11 a.m. This sequence of events is now seen as evidence that Moscow did not act offensively, but merely reacted. Additional SS-21s were later moved to the south. The Russians deployed 5,500 troops to Gori and 7,000 to the border between Georgia and its second separatist region, Abkhazia. [my bold ~ RJA]

From this information, acquired by NATO intelligence, it is obvious that the Georgian forces attacked the South Ossetian town of Tskhinvali nine hours before the Russian army fired one shot in retaliation. Any suggestion the Georgians were simply defending their territory is ludicrous. Saakashvili’s lies have come back to haunt him.

European leaders are now calling for an international investigation into the causes of this war. Saakashvili is worried.

Is he, as Sparrow Chat suggested, finished politically?

Der Spiegal:

Last week, the heads of Georgia’s two major political parties called for Saakashvili’s resignation and the establishment of a “government that is neither pro-Russian nor pro-American, but pro-Georgian.” In Moscow, former Georgian Deputy Interior Minister Temur Khachishzili, who spent years in prison for attempting to assassinate Saakashvili’s predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, is drumming up support for a change of government back home among the more than one million Georgians living in Russia.[3]

A question remains: if Sparrow Chat was able to deduce the true events of this war four days after its inception, why were Western political powers unable to do so, and so insistent on blaming Russia, in a political spat that brought the world to the brink of a new Cold War?

The answer, of course, is that they were well able to deduce the truth.

Which begs another question: why did they, like Saakashvili, choose to lie about it?

[1] “THE END OF ARROGANCE” Der Spiegal, September 30th 2008

[2] “The Great Chess Game” Sparrow Chat, August 11th 2008

[3] “Did Saakashvili Lie?” Der Spiegal, September 15th 2008

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6 Replies to “Spiegal Spills The Beans”

  1. Re the first article (on G.W. Bush), I’ve often wondered how on earth he ever won an election, let alone two elections. Not having seen him at what could laughingly be called his “best”, it’s hard to understand the enthusiasn US people had for him. Even if there was, as many believe, some “fiddling” with votes in either or both elections, the count must have been pretty close to allow for that to happen.

    Can’t get my head around the other article though, RJ – my attention span unspanned.

  2. Twilight – in brief: Georgia has two provinces, South Ossetia and Ashkavia, both populated largely by Russian citizens who want to be part of Russia. Georgia’s president, Saakashvili, wants to join NATO, but was told by the West he had to sort out the problems with these two provinces first. On August 7th, Saakashvili assembled a large military force on the border with South Ossetia and began shelling the town of Tsvinblisi in an attempt to take the enclave by force of arms. South Ossetian militia responded. Eventually, the Russian miltary, stationed in North Ossetia (part of Russia) came to their aid, and drove the Georgian army back.
    Owing to a certain confusion, Saakashvili was able to allege the Russians attacked without provocation, it was they who had shelled South Ossetia, and his army had only defended themselves. The West vehemently backed him, even though it was blatantly untrue. Unfortunately, western media spread the story, implying the Russians were to blame, so many people in the West came to believe that.
    Now, the truth is coming out. The West is beginning to huff and puff about being duped by Saakashvili (they were almost certainly backing him from the start) and though we’ll undoubtedly never hear an apology to Russia from the West, their actions have been all but vindicated.
    This is much simplified, but hopefully covers the salient factors.

    TOB – there can be no doubt you’re a native of da ‘Pool, my friend. 😉

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