Sunday, August 10, 2008

Depends what your definition of "disproportionate" is

A tale of two invasions....

1. Russian Foreign Ministry statement in response to breakout of war between Hezbollah and Israel, July 13, 2006 (Interfax):

The spiral of violence in the region is being wound tighter and tighter. Israel's retaliatory steps, including sending of troops to invade Lebanese territory, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and the blockade of Lebanese territory from the sea and from air have led to major casualties and sufferings among the civilian population. Hezbollah has started missile attacks of Israeli cities, including Haifa, from which innocent people are also suffering....

All this is happening parallel with the Israeli army's operation in the Palestinian territories, where civilians get killed every day...

The Russian Foreign Ministry resolutely condemns the servicemen's abduction and the firing upon Israeli territory. At the same time, we view the military actions launched by Israel as the disproportionate and inadequate use of force endangering Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity and threatening peace and security in the entire region.

2. U.S. response to Russian invasion of separatist Georgian regions:

Reuters, Aug. 9 - Russia has used "disproportionate" force in the South Ossetia conflict with Georgia and must immediately agree to a cease-fire with Tbilisi, a senior U.S. official said on Saturday.

Russia and Georgia came into direct conflict over South Ossetia this week after Tbilisi launched an offensive to regain control over the breakaway separatist region.

"The response has been far disproportionate from whatever threat Russia was citing," the senior American official told reporters in a conference call. "We are calling for an immediate cease-fire and a stand down of all troops."

Washington Post, Aug. 9 -- Russian strategic bombers and jet fighter planes pounded targets in many parts of Georgia on Saturday, hitting apartment buildings and economic installations, as well as military targets in an escalating war that is killing more and more civilians and confounding international efforts to secure a cease-fire....

Saakashvili said Russian planes struck the Black Sea port of Poti, attempted to hit but missed a pipeline carrying Caspian Sea oil to Turkey, and bombed railway stations, among other nonmilitary targets. Doctors working in Gori said that Russian planes had struck two military field hospitals....

"There is panic in Tbilisi," said a senior U.S. official, briefing reporters in Washington. He said Russia is using TU-22 supersonic strategic bombers that can carry as much as 54,000 pounds of bombs and cruise missiles. He also said that Russia has launched ballistic missiles against targets in Georgia.

So...Russia openly regrets its loss of empire, and will work methodically over coming decades to reconstitute as much of it as possible. That's universally recognized: surely no one in the world outside of Russia accords a shred of moral authority to Russia when it condemns other countries' actions. But as this crisis will doubtless highlight, the Bush Administration has spent down U.S. moral capital worldwide practically to the level of Russia's (see, e.g., green light to Israel, July '06).


  1. Whenever you are defending civilians there is no lack of moral capital. Russia is putting an end to purges of osetians.

  2. I think your post compares 2 different press releases, and it is striking that you compare the invasion of Georgia by the Russian Military, directly to the proxy invasion of the US, via Israel, of Lebanon.

    But I don't understand your conclusion.

    Isn't the conclusion that the US has squandered our moral ability to judge Russian decisions? Because the US does not even consider Ethics when invading other countries. Ethics are translated through Politics into our aggresssive interventions.

    We were a young hero in a movie, handsome, defending the girl's honor against bullies. But a few months pass and now we're the Bully, a slovenly belligerent Bully.

    In the same way, the US has cut a wide gash that separates us from our ideals as a nation. We used to be admired for our freedoms. Now we still get many immigrants who all have the expectation of earning wealth. They do not come for moral freedoms at all.

    Your post was great.