31 August 2008

One other note about Iristun: you really can't negotiate these things they way the regions and geopolitics are currently conceived. I had thought that Kosovo should have been at least negotiated or drawn so that the Serb towns stayed in Serbia, but discussions with folks from the area confirmed that the Serbs would never agree to to any giveaway of land, period. Ditto the Georgians: Saakashvili ran primarily on giving away none of the breakaway regions, which made it impossible for anyone to negotiate the status the Georgian regions of Ossetia and Abkhazia if they wanted to, especially after the bombings.

Like the Bonn Agreement on greenhouse emissions was caused by Bush insulting Europe, Iristun's independence, like Kosovo's, was brought about by anti-diplomacy and chest-thumping. These new nations will need to be more diplomatic in their difficult early years when they won't have the luxury to squander an economic superpower on a bloated defense budget and the corruption of the executive branch by the oil cartels. The pro-Western Khatami was president of Iran when they were put on the Axis of Evil and the anagonism was ramped up thereafter.

Good videos to watch to put McCain's sudden interest in Arcadian culture in context.

21 August 2008

Iristun celebration, continued

I caught on our PBS a story from ITN last night that focused on Ossetian militia chasing Georgians out of their homes, a story that did not identify the victims as ethnic Georgians, and didn't mention the bombing raids by Saakashvili to commence this conflict. All you need to know is that the Ossetians are the bad guys and they and the Russians need to be stopped.

In analyzing this as a phenomenon of 'crisis of NATO,' 'crisis of US-Russian relations,' one has to look at what makes this conflict different from the larger wars that took place in these regions (Ossetia and Abkhasia) in the early 90s. At that time, Scheverdnadze was in power rather than a US puppet, although Shevardnadze was pro-Western, initiating ties to the US, declaring an intention to join NATO, and making the deal for the pipeline that was built several years ago. In the Abkasian war, Shevardnadze asked for Russian help in protecting the 250,000 Georgians in the region that were being displaced, and Russia provided some help, prompting Georgia to join the post-Soviet bloc CIS. Russia has been covertly helping the breakaway majorities in these regions and Georgia has no military means or functional government to keep this from happening. Saakashvili's corruption, which has included suppression of free press, alleged assassination of major political opponents, violence against protesters, state sponsored blackmail and vote buying, before he decided to bomb Tskhinvali to rubble, has easily eclipsed the magnitude of the charges that brought an end to Shevardnadze's administration.

But the wars in these regions in the early 90s were of greater consequence than those in 2008, so why is this suddenly an American crisis? The pipeline is built, but that's not being threatened. The leadership is more anti-Moscow, but that's not going to change. What's different is that the Bush Administration and the stenographers in the media are blowing this up into a crisis in an election year after the mainstream media is well past the point when it can get away with promoting 'weapons of mass destruction.'

Update Sept 2, Putin agrees with that last sentence: "We have serious reasons to believe that there were U.S. citizens right in the combat zone. If that is the case, if that is confirmed, it is very bad. It is very dangerous; it is misguided policy

"But, if that is so, these events could also have a U.S. domestic politics dimension.

"If my suppositions are confirmed, then there are grounds to suspect that some people in the United States created this conflict deliberately in order to aggravate the situation and create a competitive advantage for one of the candidates for the U.S. presidency. And if that is the case, this is nothing but the use of the called administrative resource in domestic politics, in the worst possible way, one that leads to bloodshed."
I hadn't had a B complex for at least two weeks, and one arrived with 125mg of B6 yesterday. Dream journey: In Rio de Janiero, I was involved in some activity that prompted local friends to put my stack of books into a canvas bag with very long straps as the straps were sewn into the skin of a large, happy dog willing to transport them. Relaxing at the end of the day, I noticed the dog and thought I should take the straps out. I pulled them out carefully and eventually I was pulling something out that wasn't canvas but could have been intestinal matter. The dog kept smiling with its tongue sticking out. There was a baseball diamond there for some reason which had shrunk enough that the center fielder could quickly throw to third base to pick off a tall, fast baserunner identified as Otis Nixon but who didn't look like him taking a lead off third base, repeatedly for eternity. The center fielder was very pleased to repeat himself in this way. This had gone on for so long upon my arrival that a daily fruit market had located itself around the third base cutout, so that the throws to third had to be directed around the fruit vendors and their clientele, and 'Mr. Nixon' would frequently bump into people while trying to get back to third. I wrote and performed an impromptu samba about being complimented for my bracelet when I was not wearing a bracelet.

18 August 2008

Iristun, an Olympic celebration

It would appear that the word “Iristun” does not occur in the English speaking World Wide Web, so Piri’ Miri Muli’ is honored to welcome the concept of the Nation of Iristun to the web and declare it the undisputed victor of the Olympiad, a victory that came at a striking cost to human lives and infrastructure.

“The Ossetians call their land Iristun, which is divided by the Caucasus into North Ossetia, an autonomous republic in the Russian Federation with Vladikavkaz as capital, and South Ossetia, with its capital of Tskhinvali. Ossetian plans for the unification of the two regions now appear to be given up as impractical.” (Lonely Planet Georgia, 1st Edition. Pictured: Mikhail Lermontov's Tiflis)

As I've suggested, if the events of this month bring the Ossetians closer to the Nation of Iristun, it has come at a human cost – Moscow puts the death toll resulting from Georgian bombing of the capital at at least 1,600, with over 30,000 fleeing north from the combat zone. Georgian president Saakashvili claims that the region had been evacuated by Russia, he was returning fire, and no civilian sites were targeted, but global media reports cite the total destruction of the city’s civilian buildings and eyewitness reports of mass graves after the bombings.

Both the mainstream Western media and the suspicious blogosphere has begun the process of summarizing “the true meaning of the Ossetian war,” making a wide range of assertions about new Cold Wars, old Cold Wars, American motives, and Russian motives. Today’s New York Times: “It’s.. the story of how both Democrats and Republicans have misread Russia’s determination to dominate its traditional sphere of influence” ‘that’s the way they all became the Putin Lunch.’ These assertions, be they pro-Georgian propaganda in the corporate media or elegies for the American empire in the blogosphere, seem to be characteristic of the narcissism of any empire’s inhabitants.

The facts support the conclusion that this was a local war between Russia and a Georgian president that was completely out of line, in which Russia performed its duty to the will of the Ossetians in a manner which is, in retrospect, unassailable and without any viable alternative and wants to maintain relations with the US and NATO as they have been. Assertions that Russia is ‘counteracting NATO expansion,’ ‘paying back NATO for Kosovo,’ ‘playing games with oil pipelines’ tend to reflect Western propaganda rather than the reality that any inaction on Russia’s part would have led to a further humanitarian catastrophe.

Is that boring? Maybe, but not for the poor and desperate Ossetians whose lives, marked by poverty and desperation have endured crisis and death for a long term victory for the unification of North and South Ossetia.

The assertion that the Russian defense of Ossetia is somehow a poke in the eye of the US almost requires the assumption that the US had a hand in the planning of the Georgian offensive. For sure, the war has spawned a reaction by the Bush administration and its occupation of the McCain campaign that US-Russian relations are in peril, and that is not without significance, but it’s unclear what that significance may actually be. There will be no sanctions, no successful appeal to the world community to isolate Russia. There is no interruption of pipelines recently built or any change in plans of future pipelines short of the destablization of Georgia itself.

Russia has used the occasion to warn NATO of supporting Saakashvili, not implying directly that there was any US support for the attack which would possibly draw the US further into the conflict. Beneath the propaganda in the Western press is the implicit suggestion that any further military support or arms sales to Saakashvili would constitute a major blunder and should heretofore be avoided. The NY Times article cites the Cheney faction of the White House supporting arms sales, and any covert US support for the attack on South Ossetia would have most likely come from Cheney loyalists.

The predictable result of the war has been a stronger Russian position and the weakened rule of the US puppet, which doesn’t circumstantially rule out the work of those ‘brilliant, visionary’ Neocon planners. Another predictable result is the talking point of media pundits that “this conflict makes McCain’s foreign policy experience more valuable.” The Cheney faction is clearly invested in perpetuating Republican support of war operations, and is the faction that sought congressional approval for a naval blockade of Iran, which would be legally a declaration of war. Alarmed web journalists consider the Georgian provocation to be an attempt to bog the Russians down in such a grandiose war plan involving Iran, but if that’s true, the Russians weren’t bogged down long.

But while I have no idea what makes Saakashvili bomb, I get back to the main point of this or any saga that the mainstream media ignores, the life and death of poor people in other countries. Back to the Lonely Planet: “You will probably be better received if you speak a little Russian, rather than Georgian, although there are areas where the population is predominantly Georgian. The preferred currency is the Russian rouble, though the lari is sometimes accepted, and the clocks here are one hour behind the rest of Georgia, in harmony with Moscow time.

“In the period of the Russian revolution, many Ossetians were on the Bolshevik side. In 1922 the South Ossetian Autonomous Region was formed within Georgia. However, a request in 1925 for the creation of a united Ossetian Republic was rejected by nationalities minister Stalin.

“In the late 1980s, encouraged by Gorbachev’s glasnost (openness) policies, many Ossetians demanded more cultural and political autonomy from Georgia. At the same time, many Georgians, led by Zviad Gamsakhurdia, began to support and intransigent nationalism. The South Ossetians’ demand to merge with their northern half within the Russian Federation was seen by many Georgians as a Russian plot. When South Ossetia declared itself a republic, Gamsakhurdia’s response was to abolish its autonomous status. Armed conflict broke out in 1989, and lasted until 1992, a few months after the successful coup against Gamsakhurdia in Tblisi. Russian, Georgian, and Ossetian units were deployed to patrol the cease-fire.”

Since then, the South Ossetians voted on an independence referendum in 2006, in which the South Ossetians voted overwhelmingly to break away from Georgia. Ethnic Georgians, who constitute a quarter of the population, for one reason or another didn’t vote, but it showed nonetheless the unanimous will of ethnic Ossetians to break ties with Georgia. Ossetians accused Georgia of attempting a coup at that time and seeking to assassinate their leader, Eduoard Kokoity, a denizen from Moscow.

So when people remember the year that Georgian president Saakashvili made bombing entire cities to rubble a new Olympic sport, Iristun may be remembered as having brought home the purest of gold in the 2008 Olympics.

13 August 2008

Protest the Olympics

Some afternoon, you show me how you swim and dive off the diving board, and I’ll do the opposite.

11 August 2008

One minor quarrel I have with this video is the Iraqi death count. ORB, which has done polling research for the BBC and the British Conservative Party, put Iraqi deaths since the US invasion at between 733,000 and 1,446,063. 20.2% of respondents to the poll said that at least one household member has died as a result of the US invasion. The British medical journal Lancet published a study in October 2006 putting the number at 655,000, and a co-author of that study said “time alone counts for most of the difference (with the ORB survey).”

Orphans: 5 million, 35% of all children in Iraq.
Refugees: 3.9 million, 16% of the population.

And of course there’s another 71 million in Iran for McCain to “bomb” and other presidential aspirants to “obliterate.”

10 August 2008

I have discovered a tunnel from leaf blowers to tugboats, walls covered with honey.

07 August 2008

Paco de Lucia reports that flamenco is completely devoid of the mention of death. So limiting for the Westerner of letters. Eisenhower highways, indoor plumbing, death and taxes, taxes for death.
A firefly on my nose between my eyes just now. Why didn't I want him there? Familiar beacons.

06 August 2008

I am recycling the mosquitos, and then assuming that they are rare and expensive.