Israel, Georgia and the nature of man

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In their statements Wednesday on Russia's invasion of Georgia, both US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice openly acknowledged that Russia is the aggressor in the war and that the US stands by Georgia.

This is all very nice and well. But what does the fact that it took the US a full five days to issue a clear statement against Russian aggression tell us about the US? What does it say about Georgia and, in a larger sense, about the nature of world affairs?

Russia's blitzkrieg in Georgia this week was not simply an act of aggression against a small, weak democracy. It was an assault on vital Western security interests. Since it achieved independence in 1990, Georgia has been the only obstacle in Russia's path to exerting full control over oil supplies from Central Asia to the West. And now, in the aftermath of Russia's conquest of Georgia, that obstacle has been set aside.

Georgia has several oil and gas pipelines that traverse its territory from Azerbaijan to Turkey, the main one being the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Together they transport more than 1 percent of global oil supplies from east to west. In response to the Russian invasion, British Petroleum, which owns the pipelines, announced that it will close them.

This means that Russia has won. In the future that same oil and gas will either be shipped through Russia, or it will be shipped through Georgia under the benevolent control of Russian "peacekeeping" forces permanently stationed in Gori. The West now has no option other than appeasing Russia if it wishes to receive its oil from the Caucasus.

Russian control of these oil arteries represents as significant a threat to Western strategic interests as Saddam Hussein's conquest of Kuwait and his threat to invade Saudi Arabia in 1990. Like Saddam's aggression then, Russia's takeover of Georgia threatens the stability of the international economy.

While Russia's invasion of Georgia is substantively the same as Saddam's attempt to assert control over Persian Gulf oil producers 18 years ago, what is different is the world's response. Eighteen years ago, the US led a UN-mandated international coalition to defeat Iraq and roll back Saddam's aggression. Today, the West is encouraging Georgia to surrender.

Whether due to exhaustion over the domestic fights about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, dependence on Russian oil supplies, a residual and unjustified belief that Russia will side with the West in a confrontation with Iran over its nuclear weapons program, or the absence of an easy option for defending Georgia, it is manifestly clear that today the West is fully willing to accept complete Russian control of oil supplies from Central Asia.

Notwithstanding the strong statements issued Wednesday by Bush and Rice, the West has taken two steps to make its willingness to accept Russia's moves clear. First, there was French President Nicolas Sarkozy's photogenic mediation-tour to Moscow and Tbilisi on Tuesday. And second there was the US's response to Sarkozy's shuttle diplomacy on Wednesday.

Sarkozy's mediation efforts signaled nothing less than Europe's abandonment of Georgia. During his visit to Moscow, where he met with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Putin's Charlie McCarthy doll, "President" Dmitry Medvedev, Sarkozy agreed to a six-point document setting out the terms of the cease-fire and the basis for "peace" talks to follow.

The document's six points included the following principles: The non-use of force; a cease-fire; a guarantee of access to humanitarian aid; the garrisoning of Georgian military forces; the continued deployment of Russian forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and anywhere else they wish to go; and an international discussion of the political status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

As a reporter for France's Liberation noted, by agreeing to the document France abandoned the basic premise that Georgia's territorial integrity should be respected by Russia. Moreover, by leaving Russian forces in the country and giving them the right to deploy wherever they deem necessary, Sarkozy accepted Russian control of Georgia. By grounding Georgian forces in their garrisons, (or what is left of them after most of Georgia's major military bases were either destroyed or occupied by Russian forces), Sarkozy's document denies Georgia the right to defend itself from future Russian aggression.

In their appearances on Wednesday, both Bush and Rice praised Sarkozy's efforts and Rice explained that the US wants France to continue its efforts to mediate between Russia and Georgia. Although both American leaders insisted that Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected, neither offered any sense of how that is to be accomplished. Neither explained how that aim aligns with the French-mediated cease-fire agreement that gives international backing to Russia's occupation of the country.

The West's response tells us three basic things about the nature of world affairs. First, it teaches us that "international legitimacy" is determined neither by a state's adherence to international law nor by a state's alliances with great powers. Rather, international legitimacy is determined by the number of divisions a state possesses.

After Russia illegally invaded Georgia, European and American officials as well as Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama hinted that Russia had a legitimate right to invade, when they wrongly referred to South Ossetia as "disputed territory."

While South Ossetia and Abkhazia are separatist provinces, their sovereignty is not in dispute. They are part of Georgia. Georgia acted legally when it tried to protect its territory from separatist violence last Friday. Russia acted illegally when it invaded. Yet aside from the Georgian government itself, no one has noticed this basic distinction.

"We don't have time now to get into long discussions on blame," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday.

"We shouldn't make any moral judgments on this war. Stopping the war, that's what we're interested in," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner explained, adding, "Don't ask us who's good and who's bad here."

Then there is the fact that Georgia has gone out of its way to liberalize and democratize its society and political system and to be a loyal ally to the US. It sent significant forces to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Far from returning the favor, in Georgia's hour of need, all the US agreed to do was give Georgian forces a free plane ride home from Iraq. That the administration has no intention of defending its loyal ally was made clear Wednesday afternoon when the Pentagon sharply denied Georgian claims that the US would defend Georgian airports and seaports from Russian aggression.

The Pentagon's blunt denial of any plan to restore Georgian sovereignty was one of the first truly credible statements issued by the US Defense Department on the conflict. It took the US four days to acknowledge Russian aggression beyond South Ossetia. Even as convoys of journalists were shelled, civilian homes were bombed, and Georgian military bases were destroyed by Russian forces in Gori, a Defense Department official said, "We don't see anything that supports [the Russians] are in Gori. I don't know why the Georgians are saying that."

The general lesson that emerges from Washington's claims of ignorance is that reality itself is of no concern to policy-makers bent on ignoring it. Through its obvious lies, Washington was able to justify taking no action of any sort against Russia and not speaking out in defense of Georgia until after Russia forced Georgia to surrender its sovereignty through the French mediators.

The US and European willingness to let Georgia fall despite its
strategic importance, despite the fact that it has operated strictly within the bounds of international law, and despite its obvious ideological affinity and loyalty to them will have enormous repercussions for the West's relations with Ukraine, the Baltic States, Poland and the Czech Republic. But its aftershocks will not be limited to Europe. They will reverberate in the Middle East as well. And Israel, for one, should take note of what has transpired.

In Israel's early years, with the memory of the Holocaust still fresh in its leaders' minds, Israel founded its strategic posture on an acceptance of the fact that the soft power of international legitimacy, peace treaties, alliances and common interests only matters in the presence of the hard power of military force. People such as David Ben-Gurion realized that what was unique about the Holocaust was not the Allies' willingness to sit by and watch an atrocity unfold but the magnitude of the atrocity they did nothing to stop. Doing nothing to prevent an innocent nation from being destroyed has always been the normal practice of nations.

Yet over time, and particularly after Israel's victory in the Six Day War, that fundamental acceptance of the world as it is was lost. It was first mitigated by Israel's own shock in discovering its power. And it was further obfuscated in the aftermath of the war when the Soviets and the Arabs began promulgating the myth of Israeli aggression. In recent years, the understanding that the only guarantor of Israel's survival is Israel's ability to defeat all of its enemies decisively has been forgotten altogether by most of the country's leaders and members of its intellectual classes.

Since 1979 and with increasing intensity since 1993, Israeli leaders bent on appeasing everyone from the Egyptians to the Palestinians to the Syrians to the Lebanese have called for Israel's inclusion in NATO, or the deployment of Western forces to its borders or lobbied Washington for a formal strategic alliance. They have claimed that such forces and such treaties will unburden the country of the need to protect itself in the event that our neighbors attack us after we give them the territories necessary to wage war against us.

It has never made any difference to any of these leaders that none of the myriad international forces deployed along our borders has ever protected us. The fact that instead of protecting Israel, they have served as shields behind which our enemies rebuild their forces and then attack us has made no impression. Instead, our leaders have argued that once we figure out the proper form of appeasement everyone will rise to defend us.

If nothing else comes of it, the West's response to the rape of Georgia should end that delusion. Georgia did almost everything right. And for its actions Georgia was celebrated in the West with platitudes of enduring friendship and empty promises of alliances that were discarded the moment Russia invaded.

Georgia only made one mistake, and for that mistake it will pay an enormous price. As it steadily built alliances, it forgot to build an army. Israel has an army. It has just forgotten why its survival depends on our willingness to use it.

If we are unwilling to use our military to defeat our enemies, we will lose everything. This is the basic, enduring truth of international affairs that we have ignored at our peril. No matter what we do, it will always be the case. For this is the nature of world affairs, and the nature of man.

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  • Marcel Cousineau 08/15/2008 at 17:55

    An excellent,long overdue,much needed warning to the grashoppers of Israel who trust in lies and delusion.
    I hope they hear your reality based warning and turn away from their idols which cannot save or help them..
    I was talking to my neighbor this morning about how Moses sent out the twelve spies who went into the land of God’s promise, how 10 of the twelve saw the giants in the land and themselves as little grasshoppers ,forgetting God and His promise as Israel has done this day.
    Israel as you mentioned has been suffering from the grasshopper sickness since 1979 and it’s been all downhill since.
    Faithless Israel puts her trust in her GIANT false god,the U.S. and false peacemaker Bush and ignores God ,but not for much longer !
    It will go bad for the U.S. in the Persian Gulf as this superpower show down with Russia will not end until the last man standing.
    And we in the U.S. are ripe for destruction.I was in the Air Force during the 73 Yom Kippur was 49th TAC squadron out of Holloman and we went on red alert Defcon 3, we got a break from it these 35 years ,but I am afraid this time there wil be no stopping it.
    The 10 spies were trusting in their own wisdom their self , as America and Israel now do.
    A Big mistake as the oswald chambers quote below reminds us.
    Israel relies on the Giant superpower America for her safety,peace and protection and ignores God because she see’s our FORCE, Aircraft Carriers and high tech weapons and smart bombs and Nuclear subs and Military Bases around the world all the while ignoreing God.
    Israel is doing what she did in the past and God will destroy the god of America ,the works of their hands and brains ,America’s God of Force and then the survivors of Israel will cry and mourn and repent and seek the Lord .
    Goid in His goodness is showing Israel the folly of trusting in anyone other than Him.
    “Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent,” Interfax quoted Nogovitsyn as saying.
    “And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and [it had] three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh” Daniel 7:5
    The hibernating bear has awakened with a large appetite and the Emperor Bush with no clothes can only mouth empty words of protest and prepare for a blockade of Iran that will lead to America’s downfall.
    The world will not be able to ignore the One who Rules above the kingdoms of men .he has set in motion the bear to devoure the flesh of the proud who interfere in His agenda for His peole Israel.
    America ,the false god Israel has chosen to follow He will swatt out of His way and as He used Babylonian King Nebuchadenezzar to Get Israel’s attention so too will He use Putin to get Israel’s attention..
    “Don’t plan without God. God seems to have a delightful way of
    upsetting the plans we have made, when we have not taken Him
    into account.” – Oswald Chambers

  • Marc Handelsman, USA 08/15/2008 at 18:38

    Man’s nature is inherently evil, and it takes discipline to control it. For example, Russia’s unjustified occupation of Georgia demonstrates man’s evil nature to control territory and oil. The only way to restrain evil is for good men to defeat it. The mistake the West made was not pouring troops into Georgia to stop the Russians. Now Russia and other adversaries have a green light to threaten Eastern Europe and Israel. And if the West continues to renege on its commitment to defend freedom, it will be lost.

  • yonason 08/15/2008 at 19:48

    You know very well that our victories against the Arab enemy were miraculous. Please don’t forget that. Just as we need a strong military, we need to acknowledge that without G-d even the strongest military is useless.

  • Hugh Schatz 08/16/2008 at 0:13

    I think Henry Kissinger once said something to the effect of, “To be an enemy of the United States can be dangerous, but to be her ally can be fatal.”
    Without a strong IDF, and the political will to use it ruthlessly, I fear that Israel is doomed. I’m not religious, so I’m not impressed by the argument, often heard, that G-d will protect Israel. Israeli sailors, soldiers, members of the IAF, and those in the security services, are the only ones who will ensure her survival.
    All else is window dressing in my opinion.

  • Bill K. 08/16/2008 at 0:25

    There are 100,000 + U.S. troops in Iraq now with not a whole lot to do anymore. Some troops are even grousing, good naturedly, that there is no one to fight any longer. To the east, though, there is an enemy waiting to be vanquished: Iran.
    Collapsing Iran, ousting the mullahs and destroying their nuclear capability would remove the threat of Islamic militancy that has plagued the United States and Israel for thirty years. The fall of Iran would also start the domino effect that would lead the collapse of Iran’s minions in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.
    The ending of the mullah’s Iran would be a major blow to Russia too. Far greater than attacking the Russians in Georgia. Russia relies on Iran to negate the benevolent presence of the United States and Israel in the Mideast. Russia would be left without a toady to do its bidding in the region.
    There has been much blather in the popular press about how American forces are so tied down that they could not respond to the Russian invasion even if they wanted to. But this argument cuts both ways. A good part of the Russian forces are now engaged in Georgia, while American forces in Iraq have for the most part finished their fighting. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for George Bush to take advantage of this strategic windfall. With a closet pacifist as Secretary of Defense and an inveterate appeaser as Secretary of State another grand opportunity to set the world straight is about to slip by.

  • Timothy Kriete For Israel FOREVER MORE AMEN 08/16/2008 at 1:20

    AMEN Caroline Glick My Precious Sister, STAY
    STRONG And Keep Sounding The Shofar RELENTLESSLY
    FOR ZION’S SAKE (ISAIAH 62 & Genesis 12:1-3), I
    Shall Keep This Post Brief So As To NOT Offend
    Anyone Else FOR ZION’S SAKE BUT Know I Am In
    I Love You ALL And You Can’t Do Anything About
    It. Numbers 6:24-27,Habakkuk 2:1-3, STAY STRONG
    SIS 🙂 Thy Servant And Brother FOR ZION’S SAKE
    Timothy Kriete

  • Manuel 08/16/2008 at 5:07

    This is a brilliant piece. You are absolutely right. It is a crime that your clarity of vision is not shared by those elected to positions of authority in our democracies.

  • Pedro 08/16/2008 at 6:09

    Well done,Caroline. A truly no BS assessment and reflection. You’ve cut to the core in this matter. From Tripoli in 1805 to Basra in 1991. The U.S. has a shameful habit of ditching our allies in order to look good. This is no different.

  • charles soper 08/16/2008 at 14:01

    There is truth in the analogy between Serbian actions in Kosovo and Georgian action in S Ossetia – hundreds of civilians died in Georgia’s initial rocket attacks – even if it was in response to Russian mediated provocation. (Though NATO never invaded non-Kosovan Serbia.)
    There is also a useful analogy between Russia and Chechnya and Georgia and her provinces, highlighting Russia’s own hypocrisy.
    Sashkavilli is hot headed, intemperate, as deceitful as the Russians, and won’t last long even if the Russians don’t push him out. That partly explains initial Western pusillanimity, but I fully agree it doesn’t justify it now tanks are in Gori and Poti, nor Gates’ shameless raising of the white flag!

  • Mitch 08/16/2008 at 15:27

    Or the shorter version, as summarized by the American philosopher Al Capone: “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”

  • sol vason 08/16/2008 at 16:17

    Putin presents the 21st century world with the same choice that Hitler presented the 1930’s world. The facts are similar. In both cases Putin and Hitler want to rebuild their countries by reuniting lands lost in the last 15-20 years. Even the names of the countries are the same. The arguments are the same — why can’t we solve this with negotiation? And just as Germany, Italy and Japan were allies, so are Russia, Iran and China. Barak Obama is ideally situated by his core beliefs and his enormous popularity to become the next Neville Chamberlain. But this time there is no slumbering giant who can step in and defeat the forces of evil.
    This time we have to defeat the tyrant while he is still weak.

  • DeadReckoning 08/17/2008 at 1:57

    Your article is entirely right and to the point. The US, as of recently, is being repeatedly caught with its pants down. The Russian invasion of Georgia is just another example of US ineptitude. As a citizen of the US, we either need to lead or get off of the pot.

  • lawrence kohn 08/17/2008 at 15:26

    Bush administration had no plan to protect Georgia because it fell for notion Cold War was over and Soviet Union had collapsed. My Midstream article of April 1996 , Russia’s Turkish Target quoted Yeltsin and Primakov as saying the former Soviet republics would reunite with Moscow. This event was only a matter of time once Russia gained enough economically from being included in the G-7 now G-8 and time to add to its arsenal of weapons including two new nukes. French mediation also falls under requirements of bi-lateral treaties Gorby and then Yeltsin signed with many NATO nations in case of “aggression” by a third party. This was also highlighted in my Midstream series of the 1990s and in International Currency Review editor Christopher Story and Anatoliy Golitsyn’s Perestroika Deception. Putin is Yeltsin without the mask. But Georgia never had a chance; how defend it so close to Russia’s border? Need to regroup and follow Glick’s prescriptions in Middle East, close technology and economic access to Moscow and overthrow Chavez, Russia’s puppet in America’s backyard.

  • Dan 08/18/2008 at 2:18

    Man’s nature is NOT “inherently evil.” Such a position is not Biblical, and flies in the face of human experience. There are people who demonstrate great virtue, and at great cost to themselves.
    However there are also others, who due to the mystery of inquity, choose to go against conscience and Natural Law, and embrace evil.
    Recall St. Augustine, “I sought whence evil came, and found it not.”
    But on the point raised in the lead post, —————— Israel would do very well to look to itself, and trust no one, no matter how sweet the assurance of protection.
    My country is NOT going to do spit to stop Tehran’s Manhattan Project.
    That needs to become a settled fact within Israel’s ruling clique.
    Stop looking to us to save you, ————– for Washington will not, though the people would.

  • Georgia INFO 08/18/2008 at 9:49


  • Marcel Cousineau 08/18/2008 at 13:07

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
    I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.Jeremiah 17:9
    Man is inherently evil ,look around ,it’s comfirmed by all the prisons and courts and laws.
    And lets not forget what happened to those wicked, perverted rebellious folks who proudly partied on as the water level rose and Noah and his family waved ciao,arrivederci.
    History repeats as stubborn,inherently evil man never learns from it.
    The road is narrow indeed.

  • Timothy Kriete ISRAEL FOREVER AMEN 08/18/2008 at 22:50

    Dear Caroline Glick My Precious Sister For
    Hey Sis, STAY STRONG BABY GIRL, Did You See
    This Quote From James Woolsey A Man Blessed
    In January 2007, ex-CIA director James Woolsey
    told IsraelNationalRadio’s Alex Traiman,
    “Unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would
    NOT be a wise step for Israel to take; when one
    sees what happened in Gaza, and sees the
    political advantage that Hamas has taken of the
    situation to claim unilateral victory and now
    to be part of the PA government – how many
    failures do you need before you recognize that
    it’s a FAILURE?” Sis I Thank The LORD God Of
    ALL Flesh (Jeremiah 32:26-27 AMEN) For Blessing
    YOU And Others With Divine Wisdom From Heaven, I
    Am Enjoying VERY MUCH Reading Your Book
    “Shackled Warrior” As I Am Reading It ALL I CAN
    Thy Eternal Covenant Servant & Brother FOR
    ZION’S SAKE AMEN :):):) PS Marcel Cousineau
    I Appreciate And Enjoy Your Comments On THIS
    Article STAY Strong Brother And I Thank You For
    NOT Throwing Pebbles At Our Precious Sister
    Caroline Glick, Israel’s Boldest Woman Since
    Sis, You Were Surely Born FOR SUCH A TIME AS
    THIS Caroline Glick (Esther 4:14 AMEN :):):):)

  • Dan 08/19/2008 at 2:59

    Marcel, reread Genesis.
    God “saw” what he created at the end of the 6th day, and what did he see? Genesis 1, 31: “God looked at EVERYTHING that he had made, and he found it VERY good,” “emphasis added}. Moreover, God gave man “dominion” over “everything” in creation, which he had already found “pleasing” to him. Would God have done that were man “inherently” evil.
    Your phrase is too strong.
    Man is a fallen being to be sure, and the Devil has a certain power over him, over his senses in particular, but man, despite the fall, cannont be described as “inherently” evil.
    You phrased it too strongly.
    But this is all off-point, and tangential to the topic.

  • charles soper 08/19/2008 at 23:25

    HRW now reports 51 definite fatalities in Tishkinvali, 231 injured-the Russian figures looks as though they were about 10 x exaggerated, more than I anticipated. So my comments about ‘hundreds’ need modifying.
    I still think Sashkavilli was crazy to give the Russians such a strong pretext for retaliating – but who now doesn’t – S included.


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