Category: "Politics"

More careful editing, and more US interference in South Ossetia

Yesterday you may remember the BBC using footage of a crying woman and a child, describing the attack that she witnessed, she was portrayed in the report as being Georgian. The same woman was also shown on Russian television - what the BBC didn't bother to show you was what she said after "thank you Russia for coming and saving us". This kind of thing has happened too much, pictures on news websites on the internet show Georgian artillery, which are labeled as Russian artillery firing into Georgia. The press should feel absolutely ashamed of themselves for this.

The US has been shown to be even more involved now, as eight of their aircraft airlift Georgian forces into the country from Iraq.

How can the United States possibly call for a ceasefire while bringing more Georgians forces into the country, and while those very same forces are continuing to bombard South Ossetia?

Calling for a ceasefire while Georgian forces are still on the offensive against South Ossetia is nothing short of allowing them to get away with this land grab, allowing such a thing to happen would set a dangerous precedent, almost allowing any country to quickly rush across a border, grab as much land as it can and then demand a ceasefire before they can be pushed out by any defending forces.

To expect Russia to allow Georgia to take control of South Ossetia, or Abkhazia is completely unrealistic, South Ossetia doesn't want to be part of Georgia, they want to be part of the Russian Federation. Georgia has never had any right to claim South Ossetia, which was moved into the Georgian SSR purely for administrative reasons in the 1920s - back then it didn't really matter as it was all part of the USSR.

Georgia must not be rewarded for its military aggression, the actions of the West are disgusting and are tantamount to supporting Hitler while he invaded the Low Countries and France. Such a position would have been insane then - and is insane now.

UN officials have confirmed that Georgia has said it is ready to agree to Russia's terms by withdrawing troops from South Ossetia and by creating a safe travel zone. Yet they still haven't done it, and South Ossetia is still under fire from Georgian artillery. Not only that Georgian special forces have been caught trying to get into North Ossetia.

Russia has had the deal on the table since Friday, and Georgia has done nothing about it. Clearly the Georgian government only want to see this crisis escalate to try and drag this out as long as possible, and unfortunately such a position would mean the only way for a quick resolution to the conflict would be via Russia stepping up the military pressure until Georgia was forced to come to the negotiating table, they're not going to do that while the West are giving them the green light to take control of South Ossetia.

Georgia's idea of a "ceasefire" and possible US involvement in South Ossetia

On the news tonight - reports of Georgian forces observing a ceasefire - desperately trying to cast the Georgian forces in a positive light. Yet even on the very same news programs they later admitted that fighting continued in South Ossetia, and that Georgian forces hadn't completely withdrawn.

Tskhinvali is tonight still under fire from Georgian artillery.

The Georgian government cannot be trusted to observe any ceasefire, the last ceasefire was on Thursday, which they broke within hours when they launched an all out assault upon South Ossetia with armour, aircraft and artillery which flattened large parts of Tskhinvali killing around 1,500 civilians, and 10 Russian peacekeepers - the very forces they were supposed to be on the same side as. Within 12 hours or so they had taken control over much of South Ossetia, until the two brigades sent from the Russian 58th Army later pushed most of the Georgian forces out by Sunday morning.

Not only that, but Georgian President Saakashvili is probably one of the only heads of state capable of putting out dozens of lies per minute. He's accused Russia of "invading" Georgia, of carrying out ethnic cleansing - despite Ossetians fleeing into Russia after the Georgian military targeted Tskhinvali and destroyed much of the city - you don't see them fleeing into Georgia do you? Even more ridiculous, he accuses Russia of launching "all-out war" against Georgia! Honestly, don't you think if Russia wanted to launch all-out war against Georgia, they would use more than two battalions - which to be honest were probably all they had which were combat ready in the area. Less than 0.5% of Russia's total military. That's what Saakashvili calls all-out war? What a joke. If Russia had planned to take Georgia - instead of quickly throwing something together to defend South Ossetia from the Georgian onslaught - there would have been a build up for weeks, twenty times the number of troops would be deployed and Tbilisi would be surrounded by now, if not captured.

While he's talking to the media about his ceasefire - in Georgia itself he is calling for "total mobalisation", calling for all men to join up at recruiting stations.

At first I thought Saakashvili was just too much of a gambler, that he thought he had a good chance of successfully taking control of South Ossetia, and no doubt later Abkhazia, and that Russia would not want to get involved militarily, allowing Georgia to quickly take control and for the conflict to quickly fade while the Olympics held everyone's attention.

Growing though is the feeling the United States has cast its shadow over Georgia's actions, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Georgia a few weeks ago, no doubt they shared a wink and a nod while discussing South Ossetia. Georgia is a major American ally, the 3rd largest supplier of troops to Iraq, who's military is trained by and in the United States, and who have a large contingent of American and Israeli "advisors" within the country, and I don't think Saakashvili would have acted unless he felt the US would back him up if something went wrong.

At least one American has been captured, operating within South Ossetia with the Georgian military, presumed at the moment to be a military advisor.

Potential western involvement only makes it more likely that this will spin out of control, and it is clear that must be avoided. Georgia needs to get back to the lines it occupied on Thursday, which is the requirement Russia has put on the table for talks to begin.

In the meantime, Georgia should stop firing upon Tskhinvali so the remaining civilian population can be moved at least to the north of the city away from any fighting. As the situation calmed down somewhat yesterday as Georgian forces were pushed out of South Ossetia, Russia managed to get 120 tonnes of food into South Ossetia, and 17 tonnes of medical supplies to try and ease the situation on the ground for the civilians there - Georgia doing the same would also be a good idea instead of talking about "total mobalisation". Dialog also needs to start between the two, even if initially only to inform each other of the location of any aid convoys to try and keep them from coming under fire.

The propaganda begins - Georgia started this conflict

For those up early Friday morning, if you turned on the news you saw reports of a huge Georgian offensive against separatists in South Ossetia.

Background:

South Ossetia, is a de-facto independent state, which Georgia claims is its own, however it is primarily made up of Russians, most carry Russian passports and have Russian citizenship. Following a brief period of fighting in the early 1990s, a ceasefire was made between the rebels, whereby a joint Russian-Georgian and Ossetian peacekeeping force (limited to about 500 soldiers) remained in the area to keep the peace.

Night of the 7th: Georgia broke the ceasefire and launched an all out assault upon South Ossetia, following up on a brief artillery barrage on the 1st which killed about six people. This time Russian forces come under fire, and the capital is heavily damaged by sustained artillery fire. 1,400 civilians are estimated to have died, and 10 Russian soldiers.

The following morning: Additional Russian troops are ordered into South Ossetia to re-enforce existing Russian peacekeeping forces and defend the Russian population.

Funnily enough throughout the day I thought the reporting wasn't too bad, even Sky News mentioning the fact that it was Georgia that started this conflict.

Somehow, the BBC News at 10, forgot the details of the night of the 7th. Giving the impression this was a Russian invasion of Georgia.

I'm pleased to say, BBC News 24 (or whatever it is called now) at midnight on the 9th, correctly reported that Georgia made the opening moves.

However the damage has been done. On Labourhome we see rubbish like this:

After Georgia attempted to restore order to its legal sovereign territory - South Ossetia - Russian tanks and fighters have crossed into Georgian land and airspace.

Right, attacking fellow Russian peacekeeping forces, shelling the capital city and killing over one thousand civilians is restoring order.

By attacking Russian forces, minding their own business in South Ossetia - where they're supposed to be - is an act of war. Russia would be well within its rights to drive to Tbilisi and force Georgia's surrender.

The sheer aggression of Georgian President Saakashvili cannot be overstated, what did he think the Russian government would be too busy watching the Olympics to respond? Or was he expecting NATO support? No doubt timing serves in the propaganda war, Georgia attacks hours before the Olympics - so it gets very little news time, and the following day all we here about is the Russian response. There's no question at all, Saakashvili should be booted out of office.

People can really come up with some wacky conclusions when they don't know the facts, Tree Tibet supporters come to mind, and so does our Labourhome friend who says:

A full scale attack on Georgia must be met by NATO.

Great, that'll calm the situation down.

Hypocrisy at its finest - South Ossetia

Blatant and obvious to all, hypocrisy at its best.

In response to the Georgian offensive against Russian peacekeeping forces within the de-facto independent state of South Ossetia (ethnically Russian). The U.S. State Department supports Georgia's "territorial integrity". What a shame it doesn't support Serbia's territorial integrity - or anybody else's for that matter, unless of course they're a reliable business partner.

South Ossetia's independence was forced by rebels during the early 1990s, until 1992 when a ceasefire was declared and a small Russian-Georgian-Ossetian peacekeeping force was put into place to oversee the ceasefire.

Condoleezza Rice has the nerve to tell Russia to pull its peacekeeping force out of South Ossetia - maybe she hasn't heard that it's their job to be there under the terms of the 1992 ceasefire. Unlike the US and its little invasion forces that have been occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, or before that Yugoslavia etc, honestly you can just go on and on.

Despite two referendums on independence from Georgia - both of which passed with over 95% of the vote, the international community has not recognised South Ossetia's independence, Geogian president Saakashvili vowed to restore "order" to South Ossetia after his election.

Last night Georgian forces opened an artillery barrage and air strikes against the South Ossetian capital; Tskhinvali, and Russian peacekeeping forces in the area, Ossetian forces have stated they estimate 1,400 civilians have died as a result of Georgian forces shelling the capital. It looks like Mr Saakashvili's little gamble of ending the issue by pushing Russian and Ossetian rebel forces out of the country quickly, while nobody noticed during the Olympics has failed, as Russian forces counter-attacked, with Russia's new president Dmitry Medvedev announcing anybody killing Russian citizens will receive a "deserved punishment".

Georgian forces should be pushed out of South Ossetia, and the South Ossetian government should call for a referendum to determine if South Ossetia should be integrated into the Russian Federation, something no doubt a huge proportion of the population already support.

Georgia has been feeling like they could get away with anything over recent years, they've been pushing Russia harder and harder and finally it looks like Russia is going to hit back. So much so Mr Saakashvili has gone into a panic; recalling troops from Iraq, and begging with anybody to intermediate and negotiate a cease fire. Maybe he should have thought about that before ordering Georgian forces to launch an attack upon civilians and peacekeeping forces within South Ossetia.

Use of the Olympics as a political weapon

The press has been running seemingly endless anti-China stories, almost every article on the BBC website has an image of a policeman to go along with any story about the Olympics. How about reporting the news for a change instead of creating it?

Today two Britons are being held by Chinese police after putting up "Free" Tibet banners near the national stadium, a number of other protests have gone on around the city by small groups of people.

These people then have the nerve to suggest that China is using the Olympic Games as a propaganda tool.

We've done this action today to highlight the Chinese government's use of the Beijing Olympics as a propaganda tool

Completely and utterly backwards, it is the western media, all these "Free" Tibet supporters running around, and the religious fundamentalists who recently carried out an attack on the border post in Xinjiang who are using the Olympics as a propaganda tool.

The "Free" Tibet supporters just don't know how ridiculous they look to people in China. It would be like thousands of people coming over here in 2012, putting up banners, and climbing street lights and shouting "FREE CORNWALL!", we'd think they were barking mad.

What these people seemingly don't understand is now the hardliners in the Chinese government will use all of their actions of late to justify every anti-demonstration law, every control on foreign journalists, and they'll have the support of the significant section of the Chinese population who will believe it is necessary to control these disrespectful foreigners that are running around. Congratulations, you've just weakened the more liberal wing of the Chinese government.

Off the Richter scale, and the Glasgow East defeat

Congratulations to John Mason on winning Glasgow East, but I hope he is planning on picking up some science books soon.

Mr Mason described his win as being "off the Richter scale", the only way I can interpret that as being so weak it is undetectable, or that there is no seismic activity at all, and as such it isn't on the scale.

I don't think he meant it in that way, and as such I'll remind him that the Richter scale, which is a base 10 logarithmic scale for measuring the amplitude of the largest seismic wave during an earthquake, has no upper limit, and so nothing can be off the scale.

So Mr Mason, even a win, with enough energy to destroy the entire Earth isn't off the scale.

We need MPs with some basic understanding of science, especially in these times where science is more important than ever.

As for those calling for Gordon Brown's departure. Obviously, I never voted for the bloke, nor would I of if the Parliamentary Party ever gave us the choice, but let's face it replacing Gordon Brown with Miliband (not that he would touch the job with a barge pole at the moment), or Harman, or whoever wouldn't change anything.

What David Cameron calls for; replacing Labour MPs with Tories will change things - for the worse. Fox Hunting? Back. Minimum wage? Frozen. Public services? Sold off faster than ever. Tax cuts? Sure for the rich. Unfortunately, although the Tories wouldn't want to admit it, that isn't the change the public is craving for.

There's one theme I'm coming across more and more often, the public want a party that represents them. They're sick to death of political parties sucking up to the rich and throwing everyone else the leftovers from the table. The first step along that path is retaking our party from the Blairites and bourgeois-entryists.

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