zaterdag 6 september 2008
Ik ontving net deze reactie gericht aan de Wereldomroep:
In uw bericht 'Amerikaans oorlogsschip komt aan in Georgische haven Poti' schrijft u dat het Amerikaanse oorloggschip geladen is met "humanitaire hulp". Mijn vraag aan u is vervolgens: hoe weet u dat? Heeft u de lading geïnspecteerd? En vindt u het zelf ook niet merkwaardig dat er een oorlogsschip humanitaire hulp komt lossen, i.p.v. een gewoon schip? Roept dat niet op zijn minst vragen bij u op? Vragen waarop u als journalist de antwoorden gaat zoeken? Dat is toch uw beroep?
Naar mijn informatie hebben we te maken met de USS McFaul, de eerste van de drie geplande oorlogsschepen. De guided missile destroyer USS McFaul is uitgerust met een verzameling aan wapens met o.a. Tomahawk raketten, die zowel conventionele als nucleaire lading kunnen afschieten. Naar mijn informatie wil de Amerikaanse Marine niet openbaren hoe die raketten precies zijn geoutilleerd.
De USS McFaul ontving in 2007 de Battle Efficiency Award: "The criterion for the Battle Efficiency Award is the overall readiness of the command to carry out its assigned wartime tasks, and is based on a year-long evaluation. The competition for the award is, and has always been, extremely keen. To win, a ship or unit must demonstrate the highest state of battle readiness."
Naar mijn informatie heeft de Georgische minister van Defensie verklaard dat de Georgiërs zich met de aanwezigheid deze destroyer nu "stukken veiliger" voelen. Waarom zou dat zijn? Hoe kan iemand zich met blikken bruine bonen en pakken pleisters zich opeens 'veiliger' voelen, beste "correspondent", kunt u dat verklaren?
Ik stel deze vragen omdat mijn indruk is dat u maar wat over zit te schrijven in plaats van onafhankelijk verslag te doen. En dat u het vervolgens, zo blijkt uit uw bericht, presenteert als waarheid aan de krantlezer.
met vriendelijke groet,
'According to international defitinions (UNICEF, etc), a 17-year old is a child. In Israel, however, a Palestinian child is often referred to as a "young man," a "teenager," and often simply, "an Arab youth." It is not uncommon for Israeli journalists to add the adjectives "angry," "militant," enraged," "violent," etc. before that to make the image of a child completely disappear from the reader's mind.
On the other hand, an Israeli-Jewish armed soldier is repeatedly called a "boy" by his loved ones in this and most other articles describing heinous crimes of Israeli soldiers in endearing, human terms.
If past experiences in the Israeli "justice" system are any indicator, as exposed in several articles by Gideon Levy, chances are this murderer will get the usual slap on the wrist for his crime. After all, his victim was only an "Arab" -- the halachic "gentile"!
Finally, note how the "non-Jewish" soldier gets a four and a half year sentence while his Jewish comrade gets six and a half MONTHS for what is reportedly the SAME crime.
Border Guard officer convicted of kidnapping, manslaughter
Jerusalem District Court finds fourth officer involved in 2002 kidnapping of 17-year-old Palestinian youth guilty. Policeman who filmed incident convicted of same offenses
09.02.08, 11:24 / Israel News
The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday found Border Guard officer Shahar Botabicka guilty of the abduction and manslaughter of a Palestinian youth.
Botabicka and three other Border Guard officers were involved in the 2002 kidnapping of a Palestinian teenager, during their service in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The incident was caught on tape by Border Guard officer Denis Alhazov, who was also found guilty of abduction and manslaughter.
Officers Yanai Lalza and Bassam Wahabee were also convicted for their involvement in the incidents, with the court sentencing Lalza to six and a half months in prison and Wahabee to four and a half years.
According to the indictment, the four kidnapped 17-year-old Amran Abu Hamadya in Hebron in December of 2002. They dragged him into their jeep, proceeded to beat him and eventually threw him out of the car at high speed.
The indictment noted in detailed how Hamadya was first ordered to jump out of the moving vehicle, and when he refused, Botabicka and Lalza make him stand up in the back of the jeep, using its roof straps as support. The two then forcibly pried open his grip and pushed him out of the vehicle, which was reportedly driving at 50 mph.
Hamadya was slammed into the road and suffered fatal head injuries.
The court further found Botabicka and Alhazov guilty aggravated assault, abusing power and obstruction of justice.
When reading the ruling for the record, Justice Orit Efal-Gabai ruled that Alhazov, who filmed the incident, "was not present at the scene at random but was rather part of the plan, embarking on a path of violence as one of four participants."
As for the fact that the court tried Alhazov and as an accessory, Judge Efal-Gabai said that "although he was not a dominant participant, he was party to the plan, documenting his friends acts… in his actions and omission he has made himself a part of the deceased's killing."
Alhazov's attorney said that the court's decision was the first time in which a man has been convicted of manslaughter despite the fact that all he did was film the event: "He took no active part in the act or had any previous knowledge of it… it is regrettable that the court saw this as enough for a conviction." The defense, he noted, will appeal the verdict.
Prosecuting Attorney Moshe Saada said the court's ruling brought closure to one the gravest affairs in Border Guard history.
"The verdict sets a certain precedent in convicting the officer who filmed the incident of manslaughter, as it did the officer who instigated the abuse and violence."
The State, he added will ask the court to order Botabicka be sentenced to 20 years in prison – the maximum stated by the penal code. The State's sentencing recommendation in Alhazov's was still pending.
Shahar Botabicka's mother claimed Tuesday that her son was made out to be the scapegoat by his friends: "Even if we say that mistakes were made by all of them, they were not made intentionally.
"It saddens me to see the way the military and the state treat their soldiers. These boys have been through several traumas when they were stationed in Hebron and this is the thanks they get? The (army) should be ashamed of itself."
June 27, 2008
Lees verder: http://www.merip.org/mero/mero062708.html
Luister ook naar een onthullend interview met Graham Usher in het uitstekende radioprogramma: This is Hell:
'12 july 2008
That day's complete broadcast: MP3 Streaming MP3
live from Islamabad, Graham Usher is a contributing editor of Middle East Report (http://www.merip.org/). Graham is the author of "Dispatches from Palestine: The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Process" (Pluto Press). His most recent writing includes "Pakistan Amidst the Storms" and "Getting Pakistan Wrong."'
Leuke snor he? Dit is het hoofd van een gangster, de echtgenoot van wijlen Benazir Bhutto, Asif Zardari.
Het NOS-Journaal op de radio meldt dit over hem:
"09:01 06 September 2008
Parlement Pakistan kiest president
Het Pakistaanse parlement is begonnen aan de verkiezing van een nieuwe president. Bijna 1200 afgevaardigden uit vier provincies brengen vandaag hun stem uit. Rond 11.00 uur Nederlandse tijd begint het tellen van de stemmen. Favoriet is Asif Ali Zardari, weduwnaar van de vorig jaar vermoorde ex-premier Benazir Bhutto. Hij leidt de Pakistaanse Volkspartij en is net als ex-president Musharraf westers georiënteerd. Zardari heeft al gezegd dat zijn land de strijd tegen terreurorganisaties zal voortzetten."We trekken samen op met de VS, Groot-Brittannië, Spanje en andere landen waar aanslagen zijn gepleegd."
De belangrijkste kenmerk voor het NOS-Journaal is dat volgens het Journaal deze gangster 'westers georienteerd' is. Niet alleen is dit een halve waarheid, maar het NOS-Journaal verzwijgt dat Zardari in Zwitserland wegens grootschalige corruptie is veroordeeld. Dat is voor dit slag Nederlandse journalisten niet belangrijk. Iemand mag zo corrupt zijn als wat, zolang hij pro-ons is maakt dit niets uit. Per slot van rekening zijn dit Derde Wereldbewoners die nu eenmaal van een mindere orde zijn dan wij. Zo worden wij dagelijks gevoed met een portie nauwelijks verborgen racisme. Zo'n gangster zouden wij natuurlijk niet accepteren in onze beschaving, maar die lui daar moeten het wel accepteren.
Iemand die uitstekend weet hoe de zaken in Pakistan zijn georganiseeerd, is de van origine Pakistaanse auteur Tariq Ali, zelf telg uit een vooraanstaande Pakistaanse familie. Over Benazir Bhutto schreef hij ondermeer dit:
'By the time she was re-elected in 1993, she had abandoned all idea of reform, but that she was in a hurry to do something became clear when she appointed her husband minister for investment, making him responsible for all investment offers from home and abroad. It is widely alleged that the couple accumulated $1.5 billion. The high command of the Pakistan People’s Party now became a machine for making money, but without any trickle-down mechanism. This period marked the complete degeneration of the party. All that shame-faced party members could say, when I asked, was that ''everybody does it all over the world,'' thus accepting that the cash nexus was now all that mattered. In foreign policy her legacy was mixed. She refused to sanction an anti-Indian military adventure in Kargil on the Himalayan slopes, but to make up for it, as I wrote in the LRB (15 April 1999), her government backed the Taliban takeover in Kabul – which makes it doubly ironic that Washington and London should be promoting her as a champion of democracy.'Lees verder: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n24/ali_01_.html
Enige tijd geleden werd ik attent gemaakt op dit bericht in de weblog de Volkskrantwatch:
'Het 'PROFIEL' Nieuwe glamour, oude corruptie over Benazir Bhutto van Sacha Kester klopt aardig, maar beperkt zich tot haar corruptie. Resteert een enorm hiaat, namelijk haar financiële en militaire steun aan de Taliban in Afghanistan. En dat is merkwaardig (of verdacht zo u wil), omdat dit vraagstuk actueler is dan ooit, met name in Nederland.Kester heeft duidelijk nog nooit van het boek 'Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001' van Steve Coll gehoord. Het bestaat uit honderden interviews met CIA-mensen, politici, militairen en spionnen uit diverse landen (behalve Rusland). Verplichte kost voor buitenlandjournalisten. Coll werkte tussen 1989 en 1992 voor de Washington Post en werd daar vanaf 1998 eindredacteur. In 1990 ontving hij de Pulitzer prijs voor "explanatory journalism". Wat een prachtige uitdrukking, "explanatory journalism", iets zeldzaams op de buitenlandredactie van de Volkskrant, die zich meer richt op de waan van de dag, grotendeels voorgekauwd door commerciële (Amerikaanse) persagentschappen en militaire persberichten.Zowel Bhutto als de huidige dictator generaal Pervez Musharraf steunden de Taliban om een islamistische regering in Kaboel te bestendigen. Coll schrijft:"Every Pakistani general, liberal or religious, believed in the jihadists by 1999, not from personal Islamic conviction, in most cases, but because the jihadists had proved themselves over many years as the one force able to frighten, flummox and bog down the Hindu-dominated Indian army. About a dozen Indian divisions had been tied up in Kashmir during the late 1990s to suppress a few thousand well-trained, paradise-seeking Islamist guerrillas. What more could Pakistan ask? The jihadist guerrillas were a more practical day-to-day strategic defense against Indian hegemony than even a nuclear bomb. To the west, in Afghanistan, the Taliban provided geopolitical 'strategic depth' against India and protection from rebellion by Pakistan's own restive Pashtun population. For Musharraf, as for many other liberal Pakistani generals, jihad was not a calling, it was a professional imperative. It was something he did at the office."Charlie Wilson, een goedbetaalde Pakistaanse lobbyist en voormalig Congreslid voor Texas hield zijn mond. In de jaren '80 gebruikte hij zijn macht om ervoor te zorgen dat de House Appropriations Committee alle geavanceerde wapens te leveren die de CIA in Afghanistan nodig had. Coll schrijft dat Wilson "de mujaheddin zag door de roze bril van zijn whiskey-romantiek, als edele wilden die streden voor vrijheid, bijna als bijbelse figuren."Bhutto, die ook in het boek wordt geïnterviewd, is heel open over haar steun aan de Taliban, en dat ze daarover consequent gelogen heeft in de tijd dat zij aan de macht was. In een interview uit 2001 met Newsweek verklaart zij onomwonden:"Initially we gave them political and diplomatic support. We also gave them fuel, food, communications, transportation. The Taliban rose up and were embraced by us because we saw them as the ticket to our own economic interests regarding Central Asia. [...] They listened to us. They did depend on our blessing so they didn’t want to annoy us."Alleen haar militaire hulp, via de Pakistaanse geheime dienst ISI, die weer nauw met de CIA samenwerkte, verzwijgt ze hier. De ISI staat bekend als het "geheime leger" en de "onzichtbare regering", en is in de jaren '80 getraind door de CIA om de islamisten te sturen en te voorzien van geld en wapens tegen de Sovjets. Ook de opium steunde de ISI/CIA samenwerking: de handel en export werd door hen gestimuleerd, en dit uitgebreide netwerk is zeer goed gedocumenteerd. Het doel hiervan was het verslaafd maken van de Sovjet-soldaten en het bekostigen van van de oorlog tegen de Sovjet-Unie. Indiase geheime dienst: "The heroin dollars contributed largely to bolstering the Pakistani economy, its nuclear programme and enabled the ISI to sponsor its covert operations in Afghanistan and northern India's disputed Kashmir state." En onder het toegeknepen oog van de VS smokkelde de ISI nucleaire knowhow het land binnen voor het maken van kernwapens (uit Europa, China en Noord-Korea). Voor de VS was het belangrijker de Sovjet-Unie in Afghanistan te verslaan, dan illegale kernwapens, opiumvelden, en de Taliban. (bron: Vital intelligence on the Taliban may rest with its prime sponsor – Pakistan’s ISI) Maar in het 'profiel' van Bhutto door Sacha Kester lezen we hier helemaal niets over. Niets over de ISI/CIA, niets over de steun aan de Taliban, ja zelfs heel Afghanistan als buurland en brandhaard wordt doodgezwegen. Ik laat het aan u over om te raden waarom.'
Tariq Ali: ''Musharraf may have withdrawn the corruption charges, but three other cases are proceeding in Switzerland, Spain and Britain. In July 2003, after an investigation lasting several years, Daniel Devaud, a Geneva magistrate, convicted Mr and Mrs Asif Ali Zardari, in absentia, of money laundering. They had accepted $15 million in bribes from two Swiss companies, SGS and Cotecna. The couple were sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to return $11.9 million to the government of Pakistan. ‘I certainly don’t have any doubts about the judgments I handed down,’ Devaud told the BBC. Benazir appealed, thus forcing a new investigation. On 19 September 2005 she appeared in a Geneva court and tried to detach herself from the rest of the family: she hadn’t been involved, she said: it was a matter for her husband and her mother (afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease). She knew nothing of the accounts. And what of the agreement her agent Jens Schlegelmilch had signed according to which, in case of her and Zardari’s death, the assets of Bomer Finance Company would be divvied out equally between the Zardari and Bhutto families? She knew nothing of that either. And the £120,000 diamond necklace in the bank vault paid for by Zardari? It was intended for her, but she had rejected the gift as ‘inappropriate’. The case continues. Last month Musharraf told Owen Bennett-Jones of the BBC World Service that his government would not interfere with the proceedings: ‘That’s up to the Swiss government. Depends on them. It’s a case in their courts.’
In Britain the legal shenanigans concern the $3.4 million Rockwood estate in Surrey, bought by offshore companies on behalf of Zardari in 1995 and refurbished to his exacting tastes. Zardari denied owning the estate. Then when the court was about to instruct the liquidators to sell it and return the proceeds to the Pakistan government, Zardari came forward and accepted ownership. Last year, Lord Justice Collins ruled that, while he was not making any ‘findings of fact’, there was a ‘reasonable prospect’ that the Pakistan government might be able to establish that Rockwood had been bought and furnished with ‘the fruits of corruption’. "
Lees verder: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n24/ali_01_.html
Dit alles verzwijgt het NOS-Journaal. Het valt buiten de officieel bepaalde concensus. Natuurlijk is dit geen journalistiek, maar pure propaganda. Daar worden de NOS-journalisten voor betaald. Ze proberen niet eens de schijn van onafhankelijkheid op te houden.
'The United States is the only country (as compared to Western Europe) that makes it difficult for people to vote. Historically the hurdles have been directed at low-income voters and ethnic minorities. In 2006, various states disqualified voters if their registration information failed to match perfectly with some other record such as a driver’s license. Because of this at least 17 percent of eligible citizens in Arizona’s largest county were denied registration. In some states persons who conduct voter registration drives risk criminal prosecution for harmless mistakes, including errors in collecting forms. In Florida some 50,000 voters were purged in 2004 (in addition to the many purged in 2000), many of them African-American, who still were unable to vote by 2006. In various states and counties the subterranean war against electoral democracy continues.'
vrijdag 5 september 2008
Gepubliceerd: vrijdag 05 september 2008 11:25 UTC Laatst gewijzigd: vrijdag 05 september 2008 13:41 UTC
by Ran HaCohen
Meron Benvenisti in an excellent article mentions the "success of the propaganda campaign known as 'negotiations with the Palestinians,' which convinces many that the status quo is temporary." There's indeed no better way to describe the ongoing talks between the two politicians living on borrowed time – Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas – than as a pastime orchestrated by the Bush administration. In the past, peace talks were supposed to lead to a peace agreement, which would in turn lead to peace; now, not even that little is assumed. What the negotiations are expected to yield is at best a "shelf agreement" to be implemented at some vague point in the future, or not. No one believes such an agreement can be reached, as agreed, by the end of this year, but even the shelf doesn't really care.
But the show must go on. Last week the papers announced a great leap forward: Olmert's Israel has submitted a detailed proposal for the final status. In true negotiations, one could have said: Now we know what Israel wants. This is not the case, since everybody knows Prime Minister Olmert is no longer relevant. So what's the value of the proposal? We don't really know what Israel wants, but at least we can see what Israel is willing to say.
This is an important issue in Israeli political discourse. During the last one-and-a-half decades, this has been a central point of controversy between the Zionist left and the radical left. Any honest person has to admit that nothing changed on the ground, at least not for the better: the occupation, supposed to be ending since 1993, has been worsening all the time, with the illegal Israeli settlements growing like a fatal tumor. The radical left sees this as evidence that Israel has no intention to end the occupation. The Zionist left, however, has another argument: "Listen to the way they talk." West Bank and Gaza realities are indeed worse than ever, but, claims the Zionist left, now even the Israeli mainstream openly talks about a Palestinian state, and words will inevitably become deeds – if we just support those good guys who keep entrenching the occupation while saying they want to end it (Rabin, Peres, Barak, etc. – even Sharon, who was wise enough to join the club).
The New, Generous Offer
So let's see what official Israel is ready to say – not do – these days. The final-status proposal, according to Ha'aretz, includes the following points:
Israeli withdrawal from some 93 percent of the West Bank, keeping Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, the settlements surrounding Jerusalem, and some land in the northern West Bank adjacent to Israel, all in all about 7 percent of the West Bank. In return, the Palestinians would receive alternative land in the Negev, adjacent to the Gaza Strip, equivalent to 5.5 percent of West Bank. Free passage between Gaza and the West Bank without any security checks. The proposal rejects a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees, but includes a "detailed and complex formula" for solving the refugee problem. (No details given.) Olmert has agreed with Abbas that the negotiations over Jerusalem will be postponed. Now this doesn't sound all too attractive, not even as a "shelf agreement." Jerusalem is a core issue that hasn't even been dealt with. Furthermore, as Ha'aretz explains, "Olmert's proposal for a land swap introduces a new stage in the arrangement: Israel would immediately receive the settlement blocs, but the land to be transferred to the Palestinians and the free passage between Gaza and the West Bank would only be delivered after the PA retakes control of the Gaza Strip" (emphasis mine). The chances that the PA ever retakes control of the Gaza Strip are perhaps lower than that of Hamas taking control of the West Bank, but this only makes the proposal more attractive for Israel: we take the goods now, but we pay only after the Messiah comes.
Ha'aretz chooses to include an inevitable propaganda item in the otherwise informative report: "Over the past few months, Olmert has approved construction of thousands of housing units in these settlement blocs, mostly around Jerusalem, and some are intended for the voluntary evacuees." As always, Israel is breaching international law and is building more houses in the illegal settlements – but it is doing so with only one thing in mind: peace. For sure, the best way to end the occupation is to build thousands of new Israeli houses in occupied land. Their construction is (yet more) evidence of Israel's deep commitment to peace.
Why This Eternal Pessimism?
But still, one may argue, still. Of course Olmert's proposal will never be implemented. Of course it's incomplete, dubious, and definitely not generous. But still: Israel is ready to pledge openly its commitment to the idea a Palestinian state on 93 percent of the West Bank, plus a 5.5 percent land swap. Doesn't it mean that Israel finally admits the occupation's days are numbered? Even one MK for the right-wing Likud Party consequently accused Kadima of advancing the worldview of the Zionist left: "Any [left-wing] Meretz faction member could have signed on to Olmert's proposal." Is there any better evidence for a good proposal than the attacks from the right wing?
Not quite. As the report in Ha'aretz very briefly mentions, "Israel also presented the Palestinians with a detailed model of new security arrangements under the proposed agreement." At first, no details were given. Why spoil the peace party with small technical details? The initial report only mentioned a demand that the Palestinian state be demilitarized and without an army, a demand that the Palestinians accept, more or less. But obviously, the next day the Palestinians were reported to have rejected Olmert's proposal as "unserious," in full accordance with the Israeli misconception about the alleged "Palestinian rejectionism" from 1947 to this day.'
Lees verder: http://www.antiwar.com/hacohen/
Let's begin simply by reviewing recent events. On the night of Thursday, August 7, forces of the Republic of Georgia moved across the border of South Ossetia, a secessionist region of Georgia that has functioned as an independent entity since the fall of the Soviet Union (see map).
They drove on to the capital, Tskhinvali, which is close to the border. Georgian forces got bogged down while trying to take the city. In spite of heavy fighting, they never fully secured it, nor the rest of South Ossetia.
On the morning of August 8, Russian forces entered South Ossetia, using armored and motorized infantry forces along with air power. South Ossetia was informally aligned with Russia, and Russia acted to prevent the region's absorption by Georgia. In view of the speed with which the Russians responded —within hours of the Georgian attack— they had been expecting it and were themselves at their jumping-off points. The counterattack was carefully planned and competently executed, and over the next forty-eight hours the Russians succeeded in defeating the main Georgian force and compelling a retreat. By Sunday, August 10, they had consolidated their position in South Ossetia.
On Monday, August 11, the Russians extended their offensive into Georgia proper, attacking on two axes. One was south from South Ossetia to the Georgian city of Gori. The other was from Abkhazia, another secessionist region of Georgia aligned with the Russians. (On August 26, Russia recognized South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence, turning the de facto situation of the last sixteen years into a de jure one.) This drive was designed to cut the road between the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and its Black Sea ports, Poti and Batumi. By this point, the Russians had bombed the Georgian military airfields at Marneuli and Vaziani and appeared to have disabled radars at the international airport in Tbilisi. These moves brought Russian forces to within forty miles of the Georgian capital, while making outside re-inforcement and resupply of Georgian forces extremely difficult should anyone wish to undertake it.
The Mystery Behind the Georgian Invasion
In this simple chronicle, there is something quite mysterious: Why did the Georgians choose to invade South Ossetia on August 7? There had been a great deal of shelling by the South Ossetians of Georgian villages for the previous three nights, but while possibly more intense than usual, such artillery exchanges were routine. The Georgians might not have fought well, but they committed fairly substantial forces that must have taken at the very least several days to deploy and supply. Georgia's move was deliberate.
The United States is Georgia's closest ally. It maintained about 130 military advisers in Georgia, along with civilian advisers, contractors involved in all aspects of the Georgian government, and people doing business there. (The United States conducted joint exercises with Georgian troops in July, with over a thousand US troops deployed. The Russians carried out parallel exercises in response. US troops withdrew. The Russian maneuver force remained in position and formed the core of the invading force.) It is inconceivable that the Americans were unaware of Georgia's mobilization and intentions. It is also inconceivable that the Americans were unaware that the Russians had deployed substantial forces on the South Ossetian border. US technical intelligence, from satellite imagery and signals intelligence to unmanned aerial vehicles, could not miss the fact that thousands of Russian troops were moving to forward positions. The Russians clearly knew that the Georgians were ready to move. How could the United States not be aware of the Russians? Indeed, given the deployments of Russian troops, how could intelligence analysts have missed the possibility that Russia had laid a trap, hoping for a Georgian invasion to justify its own counterattack?
It is difficult to imagine that the Georgians launched their attack against US wishes. The Georgians rely on the United States, and they were in no position to defy it. This leaves two possibilities. The first is a huge breakdown in intelligence, in which the United States either was unaware of the deployments of Russian forces or knew of them but—along with the Georgians—miscalculated Russia's intentions. The second is that the United States, along with other countries, has viewed Russia through the prism of the 1990s, when its military was in shambles and its government was paralyzed. The United States has not seen Russia make a decisive military move beyond its borders since the Afghan war of the 1970s and 1980s. The Russians had systematically avoided such moves for years. The United States had assumed that they would not risk the consequences of an invasion.
If that was the case, then it points to the central reality of this situation: the Russians had changed dramatically, along with the balance of power in the region. They welcomed the opportunity to drive home the new reality, which was that they could invade Georgia, and the United States and Europe could not meaningfully respond. They did not view the invasion as risky. Militarily, there was no force to counter them. Economically, Russia is an energy exporter doing quite well—indeed, the Europeans need Russian energy even more than the Russians need to sell it to them. Politically, as we shall see, the Americans need the Russians more than the Russians need the Americans. Moscow's calculus was that this was the moment to strike. The Russians had been building up to it for months, and they struck.
Western Encirclement of Russia
To understand Russian thinking, we need to look at two events. The first is the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. From the US and European points of view, the Orange Revolution repre-sented a triumph of democracy and Western influence. From the Russian point of view, as Moscow made clear, the Orange Revolution was a CIA-funded intrusion into the internal affairs of Ukraine, designed to draw Ukraine into NATO and add to the encirclement of Russia. US Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton had promised the Russians that NATO would not expand into the former Soviet empire.'