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August 22, 2008

Report from Tbilisi

Michael J. Totten doing the reporting American deciders won't do. This is the first time the word "Cossack" has been dusted off for the contingency. If the hat fits.

On Monday, I visited one of the schools transformed into refugee housing in the center of Tbilisi and spoke to four women—Lia, Nana, Diana, and Maya—who had fled with their children from a cluster of small villages just outside the city of Gori. “We left the cattle,” Lia said. “We left the house. We left everything and came on foot because to stay there was impossible.” Diana’s account: “They are burning the houses. From most of the houses they are taking everything. They are stealing everything, even such things as toothbrushes and toilets. They are taking the toilets. Imagine. They are taking broken refrigerators.”

Toronto Star readers approve. Remember: Canada is "looked up to" as a "peacekeeper" and an "honest broker". Isn't that nice? It's nice to be nice.

* Nuclear assassination and steppe banditry have an effect on the tenor of the times. Or the Telegraph, as the case may be. "Ivan from Moscow, the hotel guest from hell."

* Charles Krauthammer.

Read the first five paragraphs of the NATO statement on the Russian invasion of Georgia and you will find not a hint of who invaded whom. The statement is almost comically evenhanded. "We deplore all loss of life," it declared, as if deploring a bus accident. And, it "expressed its grave concern over the situation in Georgia." Situation, mind you.

It's not until paragraph six that NATO, a 26-nation alliance with 900 million people and nearly half of world GDP, unsheathes its mighty sword, boldly declaring "Russian military action" -- not aggression, not invasion, not even incursion, but "action" -- to be "inconsistent with its peacekeeping role."

* Writing for the Guardian (WTF?), Martin Kettle argues Russia's invasion to crush the Prague Spring began the slow death of Labour as a party.

Forty years on from the Russian tanks, the eclipse of socialism is now as general in the west as it is in the former Soviet lands further east - perhaps even more so. Most people who consider themselves to be on the left - whatever that really means in the post-1989 world - are aware at some level of this reality.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 22, 2008 06:47 AM