Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Neo-cons are hoist by their own petard

Back in December, I wrote:

"Recognising an independent Kosovo will push Serbia from the Western orbit as well as creating a real chance of war. And it will set a precedent: if the rights of self-determination for Kosovan Albanians are to be acknowledged, then what about the rights of self-determination for Serbs in Bosnia, who wish to join Serbia? "

And of course, what about the rights of self-determination for the citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia? Russia's formal recognition today of the independence of those two breakaway republics has been met with an angry response by the neocons and their lackeys. US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said Russia's move was regrettable. She said Abkhazia and South Ossetia were part of Georgia "and it will remain so". The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, said Russian recognition of Georgia's breakaway regions was "unjustifiable and unacceptable", while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it "absolutely unacceptable".

Sorry, chaps and chapesses. YOU were the ones who played the 'self-determination' card in your drive to break up the former Yugoslavia. YOU were the ones who championed the cause of Kosovan independence. So really, you don't have a leg to stand on when you denounce Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.


David Lindsay said...

There is nowhere else on earth comparable to the four "frozen conflicts" left over from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh have never been governed in practice by post-Soviet Georgia, Moldovo or Azerbaijan, and were never part of pre-Soviet Georgia, Moldavia or Azerbaijan. Their two active and two soon to be active claims to independence should be evaluated in terms of their motives.

Do they, as Kosovo did and Chechnya does, want into the nexus of, on the one hand, globalisation, European federalism and American military-industrial hegemony, and, on the other hand, the militant Islam to which those forces pretend to be opposed but are in fact closely allied? Or do they want out of states moving in that very direction?

Manifestly, it is the latter.

They therefore deserve full recognition and every possible support.

Roland Hulme said...

Shock horror, I think I actually agree with you on this. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If Kosovo had the right to be independent, so do these two regins. Ossetia has a north and south region, split by an arbitary border between Russia and Georgia. Maybe Russia will let the north join the south in independence?

Anonymous said...

@Roland, as soon as Albania lets its northern counties split off and join Kosovo.

Anonymous said...

'hoist by their own petard...'? If only...

Unfortunately, our leaders contradicting themselves publicly is such common fare that Noam Chomsky has managed to fill about 50 books with documented instances of it. Or, as one of the current neocons put it (loosely) "... you're still approaching things from an evidence-based perspective... what we do now is we make our own reality.." Reality is what the propaganda machine says it is, day by day; so first day of the Georgian crisis, the BBC reports it's a Georgian invasion, 2nd day it's a Russian invasion etc.

And, unfortunately, most our our population, including most very well educated people, think they're doing well if they can remember a couple of things they saw on the tv news, or read in the paper, that day - to show they're not thick.
Unfortunately ( unfortunately is the story of the human condition, unfortunately) it's more likely to be us poor suckers who are hoist by our own petards! What's a petard, by the way? I think I'll google that now, just for the hell of it.

Neil Clark said...

A petard is 'small bomb used to break down door etc, by explosion'. The neocons in other words are bombers who've been blown up by their own device. I agree with you Jock re the numerous examples of western leaders contradicting themselves, but I do think that the hypocrisy is becoming more and more apparent to increasing numbers of people. The Russophobic campaign has backfired spectacularly- the average man/woman in the street in Britain does not see Russia as a threat, or Putin as 'the new Hitler' and isn't buying the 'plucky little Georgia' line either.
And the glaring hypocrisy behind the US/British line that 'invading other sovereign states countries simply isn't the done thing in the 21st century' has been met with the ridicule it deserves.

Anonymous said...

'Unfortunately, our leaders contradicting themselves publicly'

but you will notice that the 'free' media and the people dependent on the for the information hardly ever notice the contradictions.

Ken said...

I think that the petard was actually the wooden board that a bell shaped metal container filled with gunpowder was fixed to. The poor sod who had to carry it would try to nail the petard to the door and then light the blue touchpaper. More often than not they failed to get out of range before it exploded.

Hell of a job.

Anonymous said...

Is "chapess" really a word?

Eric Posner noticed this difficulty as well.

You might also be interested in Michael Totten's report on the beginnings of the war.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to Russia's recognition of an independent Kosovo. Though it has exercised military restraint (unlike Nato in relation to Kosovo), in the context of international law, it has done precisely the same, it has invaded a sovereign state to protect a population from the depredations of the security forces of that state against minority populations (not entirely innocent of provocation themselves) living in formerly autonomous provinces of that sovereign state. The populations of all three states are not representative of the populations of those states prior to conflict because all to a greater or lesser degree have been guilty of 'ethnic cleansing' and displaced populations (of Serbs, Roma, Georgians etc) are still living as refugees elsewhere from their original homes.

I see ideologically why we do not want to make equivalence between these because in one case we detect the evil hand of the neocons but why a socialist would want to embrace Russia deeply puzzles me (except on the basis that my enemies' enemy is my friend). It is a country manipulated mostly for the benefit of its ruling elite and their nationalist pretensions, doing only so much (and no more) to spread wealth (and it is a profoundly unequal country)to keep people quiescent (and relieved after the turbulence of the 90s).

Just to discomfort you more, Mr Kissenger was here recently, and talking to Mr Putin, remarked that Western interests fundamentally coincided with those of the West. Mr Putin leapt from his seat, ran round the table, and hugged Mr K. This surprised me only because I cannot imagine Mr P hugging anyone, even Mrs P!

If the neocons were not so stupid (with minds cluttered with redundant Soviet images), they would realise that the Russian elite so wants to belong to the club and happily help carve up the world between them but when they are rebuffed, they sulk off like a stroppy teenager and go cause mischeif elsewhere.

It is not a scenario that anyone wanting a more just world should embrace.

olching said...

Of course you are right. We have entered a period of international lawlessness not seen really since WWII and its immediate aftermath.

Even the contestations during the cold war were based on a mutual understanding that a bit of give and take were always in order.

What sets the last decade apart is the west's lack of understanding (unlike the cold war I would argue) of their own direct involvement in the destruction of international law. It is as if a whole host of junior ministers have started believe their own lies.

It's both funny and sad at the same time.

KNaylor said...

Jolies-coluers gets it spot on here. People affect to dislike the hypocrisy of Western politicians whilst then using that as a pretext for sneaking in their own political agendas which try to beat the 'imperialists' at their own ame by doing just the same.

For those who've forgotten that doublethink in 1984 means a more systematic form of hypocrisy that repalces the old one with universal nihilism and psychopathology, then they should read it again and look at the cynical set of shifting alliances that are going on between the Great Powers over Central Asia.

There is a crucial thing Neil Clark keeps missing here. It is one thing to draw attention to the hypocrisy of Western politicians and statesmen over South Ossetia but another to use that to then try to rationalise Putin's petroleum realpolitik and designs as somehow purely defensive.

The difference is clear. Russia under Putin is a regional power determined to use short and sharp wars if necessary to advance its national interests in proportion to their fulfilment. In that sense, Putin is just not a 'new Hitler, Stalin etc etc. He is more like Bismarck if any historical comparison be drawn.

The reason the same weary propaganda tropes about Georgia being Czechoslovakia in 1938, 1968, Finland in 1940, or Hungary in 1956 is clearly designed to divert attention from the fact that the clear parallel is so obviously Kosovo.

And that the expansionist power gambling everything on a drive for global hegemony is, in fact, the USA.

The USA is overstrecthed and hopelessly overdependent upon petrol to shore up its whole social, economic and political order and the American dream of freedom and mobility. The same will be increasingly true of China as it industrialises and embraces consumerism as a means of dampening down discontent and creating a supine herd that allows the political class to retain power.

The idea a new Chinese middle class will change China politically is a futile illusion. China's elite knows that if enough people can be satisfied materially then they won't really give a damn about things such as human rights. If threatened there's always the nationalist card and 'our lifestyle in danger' etc.

In that sense, other nations such as China and Russia are learning how to use Western PR techniques, an overlay of US style consumerism, and mass media manipulation that has worked so well in the USA but without the tedious and meaningless fetish for 'real' democracy.

In Russia's case, democracy is there as a means to an end which is national security and power. The difference between it and the USA lies in the consumer in the USA believing he has a choice and at the moment a more sophisticated system of 'manufacturing consent', as Chomsky calls it.

Yet the dominance of big petroluem concerns over politics, the need to shore up political legitimacy through securing petrol and the consumerism people think is their fundamental human right will develop into a more sinister pattern of rationalising political and economic failure by pointing to the existential enemy without.

The hysteria and lies, the 'demonisation' of Putin is the mere propaganda projection that is necessary to get around the fact that the world is increasingly becoming reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 with media machine's and think tank analysts spinning constant untruths to justify the creation of expanding politico-economic and military blocks such as the new NATO.

NATO has now mutated into something akin to Oceania and the sovereignty of states no longer considered anything other than a 'fetish' or a 'shackle' if it does not fit in with the game plan to control the oil and has of Central Asia.

This is a dangerous development, though at present if the EU acted as a counterweight to US dominance the ptential for perpetual conflict might be averted.

Those who think that Obama being in the White House will make a difference are deluded as his foreign policy strategist in none other than Brzezinski who tends to have the vision of NATO as some more benign version of Oceania which is different because it spreads 'democracy promotion' and so on and the free market and open society.

The problem with that can be seen in Georgia. Democracy IS preferable but the Utopian illusion that it can be made to order by designer revolutionaries and progressives is an illusion.