The US military was surprised by the timing and swiftness of the Russian military's move into South Ossetia and is still trying to sort out what happened, a US defense official said Monday. Russian forces surged into the breakaway region last week after weeks of clashes, threats and warnings between Tblisi and Moscow which culminated August 6 in a two-day Georgian offensive into South Ossetia. That the two countries were on a collision course was no surprise to anyone, but the devastating Russian response was not expected, officials said. "We were tracking it earlier in that week and we knew that things were escalating," said a military official, who asked not to be identified. "I can tell you it moved quicker than we anticipated that first day." But how it unfolded is still unclear, clouded by conflicting claims from both sides. "I think a lot of what you're asking needs to be ironed out," said the official. "Some of these little issues are definitely still big questions in this event — What was the intent? Who started it? Why did they start it? And why weren't they prepared to defend what they started?" President George W. Bush, who urged Moscow to cease fire and return to pre-August 6 positions, charged in a televised statement that Russia's intention appeared to be to depose Georgia's democratically elected president. But the extent of the Russian operation remained unclear to US officials on Monday. Georgian officials said Russian troops had moved out of South Ossetia into Georgia proper, occupying the city of Gori while Georgian troops were retreating to the capital. -NY Times
Dominant Social Theme: It's all very confusing. But Russia is clearly the aggressor, and wrong … somehow! Time for another Cold War?
Free-Market Analysis: Of course, there are varying opinions about the current fighting between Russia and Georgia these days. The Internet is crackling with them. The Internet in fact is a wonderful device. If it had been present during the First World War, the reasons for that endless, brutal agony might not be so controversial and murky as they are, and other wars as well. Anyway, Georgia is different. It offers us opportunities to speculate more clearly, in this day and age. One of the most interesting speculative articles appears on Anti-war.com. An excerpt reads as follows:
Please don't tell me Saakashvili just woke up one day and decided to attack Ossetia, and that the Americans weren't notified well in advance. Georgia depends on U.S. military and economic aid, and Saakashvili is a savvy operator: he is pulling a Lebanon, having learned from the Israeli example, and the Bush administration is more than glad to oblige him. Georgian tanks would never have rolled into South Ossetia without being given a green light by Washington. Georgia has embarked on a very dangerous course, and it's important to realize it hasn't done so alone. Saakashvili has the implicit backing of Washington in his quest to re-conquer the "lost" provinces of Ossetia and Abkhazia (and don't forget Adjaria!) – or else what are 1,000 U.S. troops doing engaged in "joint military exercises" with the Georgian military, just as the crisis reaches a crescendo of violence? … The War Party has been running on some pretty low energy lately, and this revival of the Cold War will no doubt recharge its batteries. The warmongers need a new enemy, a fresh face in their rogues' gallery, to get the masses excited again, and Putin's Russia fits the bill.
What Justin Raimondo doesn't state in the above contrarian analysis is that if this is the best the "War Party" can come up with, then it will need to recharge more than its batteries! The Cold War was driven by ideology – and that is what no one, not one single solitary commentator, even the cleverest like Raimondo, have grasped, or at least presented to readers. If one takes the position, easy enough to do, that the whole "War on Terror" has questionable qualities, then one is left to wonder whether those forces backing that sputtering "war" are questing about for other wars for various reasons – and have decided that war, any war, will do.
Actually this smacks somewhat of desperation. Ideology is necessary for a good war. But it looks as if those who seem to want a Christian/Muslim Jihad have not been able to light it up. And the idea of returning to a West versus USSR paradigm is probably a non starter as well. Which leaves what? …
Blame it on the Internet? These days even the most tried and true methods whereby one small group of humans attempts to control a much larger group are maybe not working so well. So … yes, indeed, it is certainly possible the Internet has something to do with it.
It has galvanized and educated users as nothing has since the Gutenberg press. It has pretty much exploded – at least for many in the Western intelligentsia – the Keynesian and central banking notions upon which the Western and Anglo-Saxon elite built its power during the 20th century, and even before.
So here's our take, at least at the moment:
First of all the "Great Chess Game" seems something of a joke. The idea that all this ruckus is a fight over oil is kind of ridiculous when, as many have pointed out, oil and gas are all over the place all over the world. Mexico, America, Canada, Alaska – and probably Europe as well – as sitting on hundreds of billions of barrels of the stuff, and that's just what we know about! In fact, draconian laws have had to be passed in numerous countries to ensure that people don't go out and discover too much of it and drive the price down to where it should be – probably a buck or two a barrel, if that.
Second, having created artificial scarcity over decades (and they have, trust us), the powers-that-be are now to be seen as starting to quarrel over access to this supposedly rare substance, "black gold." Wow! See, we savvy onlookers are to be given the idea that such a "secret analysis" makes us exceptionally wise and witty. "You see," we are supposed to say, "these wars are not what they seem. A pox on all their houses – this war is being fought over oil, and only oil. Disgusting!" And then, poof!, we're supposed to turn Marxist, or Green, or better yet, both.
Third, the real reason to advance spurious peak oil arguments and to create wars around them is the same as it always has been. The idea is to confuse people so much that they give up thinking about the WHYs and simply go along for the ride. Ultimately, in this analysis, war is fought for war's sake!
Communication and information are truly important factors in human evolution. There are, after all, no substitutes for free markets and civilization is based on the ability of human beings to exchange goods and services without too much coercion and confusion. But for those few who want to control the many, too much information is probably not a good thing. In fact, it's likely tougher now, because of the Internet.
So maybe it is not Russia or China that modern day elites fear. Instead, perhaps, it is un-powerful, ill-kempt individuals sitting in basements communicating information that is incendiary only because it is truthful.
Maybe, after all, these wars are not being aimed at Georgians, or Iranians, or even the Israelis. But at you, and us.