Monday, August 11, 2008

Little Things

Switching into Andy Rooney mode here ...

These are little things that piss me off, because they're typically written by people who profess to know more than I do and thus instruct me. OK, Andy Rooney wouldn't have said "piss me off."

Here's Cernig, a smart guy who always leaves me with the impression that, if you disagree with him, he thinks it's because you don't know as much as he does. Or else you have neocon, which is a sort of incurable disease. In my case, the answer is "both."

He writes, "war with Russia over a tiny disputed ethnic breakaway region in a small Eastern European country isn't going to happen." Which I agree with as an assessment. But Georgia is south of the Caucasus, and I've always thought the Caucasus was the boundary between Europe and Asia. My knowledge tends to become outdated, but I looked it up and Georgia still seems to be in Asia.

It's a little thing, but for someone whose weight of argument seems tilted toward "I'm right because I know more than you do," it sticks. Sort of like watching a ballet master take a tumble off a street curb.

He also, by the way, says:

Saakashvili has absolutely no evidence, of course, for his claim that Russia "ordered it's proxies" to carry out attacks (It might have, but he can't prove even word one of it) ....

And then later says:

... the Bush administration almost certainly knew what Georgia planned far enough in advance to stop it, but didnt ....

Which is basically making the same sort of talking-out-the-ass statement he accuses Saakashvili of making. The difference of course being that Cernig isn't president of anything (so far as I know) and can't send armies to war. Which is a big difference. But in terms of someone sifting through his arguments, I imagine it's not a point that inspires much confidence.

As for what the Bush Administration knew or didn't know, I thought one of the enduring lessons of the last 8 years is the fantastic amount of what goes on in the world that's news to Bush when it gets into the newspapers. I thought that was one of the hammering points of his opponents. Of course you can have it both ways, if you presume a marvelous Richelieu-esque duplicity on the part of the boob from Texas, that he only pretends to be surprised so he can further his agenda, which thrives on chaos and American blundering.

As for Georgia, it's painful to watch. I like Georgia and its people and government, and the Russians seem to be using this excuse to mojo up after a long spell of humiliation. Like the Grenada invasion looked to some people back in the '80s. If the Russians had popped the first shot, we'd be in a different situation. If the Georgians had gone in with more care and less artillery, things would look different too. Instead, it's like watching a good friend go Leroy Jenkins into a minefield. You just wait till it's over and hope there's enough of him left to patch back together.

I also am sticking with Demophilus' early observation that this ultimately is about Abkhasia, not South Ossetia.

* * *

The Associated Press, meanwhile, in writing about Radovan Karadzic has taken to calling the slaughter of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica Europe's worst slaughter since World War II. [Other accounts vary -- "massacre" and "atrocity" also appear.]

But it's the "since World War II" that sticks in my craw. Which is only possible for AP to write because it and the rest of us have so long blocked out the period 1945 to 1950 in Europe, when truly nasty things were done on a large scale to subject peoples, often by our then-allies, often with at least the passive cooperation of the U.S. occupiers, and often to peoples who were deemed to have taken the wrong side in the just-ended war.

The exact details of who did what to whom are the subject of furious debate and have become hopelessly entangled in cranks and conspiracy-mongers, mainly because the stories largely have been left to such people by the academics. But the numbers, even in the most conservative estimates for some specific cases, go beyond Srebrenica's 8,000.