2008-08-31

Russia, Georgia, McCain, Palin

Dreams Into Lightning is back in action, with a roundup on some significant events from the past few weeks.

Russia invaded Georgia on August 8, seizing the province of South Ossetia. And rather than try to wade through tons of commentary and analysis, I'm just going to take you to the one guy I trust, the Portland-based blogger who's got box seats to the 21st-century world. Here's Michael Totten, who, as always, is on the scene:
TBILISI, GEORGIA – Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

Regional expert, German native, and former European Commission official Patrick Worms was recently hired by the Georgian government as a media advisor, and he explained to me exactly what happened when I met him in downtown Tbilisi. You should always be careful with the version of events told by someone on government payroll even when the government is as friendly and democratic as Georgia's. I was lucky, though, that another regional expert, author and academic Thomas Goltz, was present during Worms' briefing to me and signed off on it as completely accurate aside from one tiny quibble.

... “A key tool that the Soviet Union used to keep its empire together,” Worms said to me, “was pitting ethnic groups against one another. They did this extremely skillfully in the sense that they never generated ethnic wars within their own territory. But when the Soviet Union collapsed it became an essential Russian policy to weaken the states on its periphery by activating the ethnic fuses they planted. ...

Read the rest at Michael Totten: The Truth About Russia in Georgia.

And speaking of former Russian territories, Alaska governor Sarah Palin was named as Senator John McCain's running-mate. Via The Corner, here's Blackfive:
Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It’s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.

As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's.

She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's counterterrorism plans.

Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense. Given Alaska's proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don't even know about.

According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out. This is a woman used to keeping secrets.

PrestoPundit:
In fact, Sarah Palin has more foreign policy executive experience than Joe Biden, John McCain, and Barack Obama combined. Among other things, Palin has negotiated an arrangement where by Alaska natural gas will be piped across the Canadian border and into the United States.

For MSM idiots who haven't looked at a map, Alaska has an international border with Canada, and is next door neighbors with the Russian Empire, and shares a fishing region with Japan and South Korea. A governor of a state the size and location of Alaska necessarily has all sorts of contacts and negotiations with foreign governments. It's part of what a governor of Alaska does.