Pat Answers

Pat Buchanan is a paleoconservative and an isolationist, albeit a thoughtful and articulate one. Here, presented without further comment (I’m too preoccupied at the moment with packing up and getting on the road), is an essay in which he describes recent events in Georgia from a perspective that is far more sympathetic to Russia than anything you are likely to read around here.


  1. Whilst the general thrust of his argument is worth consideration and debate, the detail in his description of the opening of the Ossetian imbroglio is very wobbly. I suppose that we will all have to wait for the history books to come out (“I should live so long!”) but you do not launch military campaigns of that size and complexity at short notice, in particular, the electronic warfare that closed down Georgian computer networks 24 hours before the Russian counter-punch was obviously well-planned ahead of the game. I prefer the scenario that Putin gave the Ossetian-Russians the go-ahead some time previously to raise hell knowing that the Georgians would over re-act thus providing him with all the excuses he needed.

    Posted August 15, 2008 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
  2. JK says

    I would agree with Mr. Duff’s observation that presently (and likely-probably) Mr. B’s description of the opening events is “wobbly.” One day past David’s observation isn’t likely to serve much but it would seem that Mr P might have had some small bit of knowledge that US satellite resources were otherwise engaged and might therefore not be watching should he, Mr P consider gathering a large force should something unusual occur. He was after all, going to watch some weightlifting.

    While on the milblogs, during the recent “exercises” the Georgians and US Marines held some 30 days prior to this most recent dust-up, some “sources” noticed that concurrently, Russian military types seemed unusually interested in strengthening the railbed connecting Russia proper with the outermost regions of S. Ossetia.

    What is the most (as we say in a certain southern state) “hog swoggling amazing” thing is that what seems to have been the entire Black Sea Fleet was able to arrive on station within 20 or so hours. As reference and comparison (this goes back a bit) when the embassy was seized in Tehran (’79) a US Carrier was docked in the Phillippines. It took a bit more than 72 hours for that carrier to be “at speed.” All I really suggest here is that some advance thinking had taken place in someplace not named Georgia. Whether a chess master had maneuvered a novice into a game remains to be seen.

    As to David’s very important observation vis a vis the cyber stuff, there used to be a general observation common to the lower level military sorts that “the higher ups” were very good at closing the barn door once someone noticed the cow was gone.

    Some “lower level persons” took note of a curious thing concerning fairly recent events in a place called Estonia, it looks like the barn door is about to get shut.

    Posted August 16, 2008 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  3. I agree with JK’s ‘hog swaddled amazement’ (wonderful expression) that anyone should think that this whole exercise was anything other than a very well-planned and executed operation by the Russians. It seems to me that there are (at least) two important questions to be faced.

    First, were the Russians justified? In another place I pondered likely British re-action were Scotland to achieve independence and, not a totally unlikely scenario, they began to il-treat English residents after accepting support and training for their army from Russia? Similarly, history demonstrates all too clearly American re-action to Russian missiles in Cuba! My point is that the Russians have some grounds for complaint concerning the creeping encirclement that they perceive taking place round their frontiers – and even if their perception is wrong, we should, perhaps, bend over backwards to avoid encouraging it.

    Second, is the idea of a ‘Fortress America’ sensible or workable? Even as an Englishman I can see its attractions to many Americans. Mr. Buchanan has just written a book on the subject based on his belief that America should have avoided WWII and in The American Conservative he invited several, er, fellow travellers to comment on it. You can read them here in pdf form:

    Were his views to be accepted as American policy, I would, to quote phrase, be afraid, very afraid!

    Posted August 16, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Thank you both for the comments and links. The Buchanan symposium about World War II is very interesting indeed.

    I think there can be no question that Georgia was played like a fish here. As whether it was “justified”, I hardly know what to say. Nations simply do what they do. It was certainly justifiable in terms of advancing Russia’s regional interests, and the timing was very good.

    As for Fortress America: with all due respect to Buchanan’s expertise and intelligence, I simply cannot imagine how this would even be possible in the world today, even if it were in our best interests, or consistent with core American principles.

    Posted August 16, 2008 at 8:42 pm | Permalink
  5. JK says

    Mr. Duff,

    As an American who “might” be affected by some obscure (and unknown provision) of what we in the colonies refer to as FISA, I am somewhat reluctant to reply directly. Allow me to posit that I am a Martian offering a Martian response.

    The patriotic and neutral Martian that I am, I would observe, given the precedents and theoretical portents of the past events relating to portions of the Earth known generally as “The Balkans” and specifically Kosovo, I might, viewing from the perspective of the Russian (and the neutral Martian) reply yes. Yes indeed.

    From a strictly Martian viewpoint, recognizing that the forces of Saturn are a threat to us, because Saturn has, in the recent past given us cause to believe this is so. From Mars we can see that Earth, in very close proximity, orbiting our mutually shared star has experienced similar Saturnian incursions. Unfortunately ours and our closely neighbored planet have fairly recently experienced difficulties amongst ourselves. But our two planets are comparatively small in relation to Saturn. Orbits, being what they are, Mars and Earth find themselves experiencing events in much the same timeframe while Saturn views its’ orbital velocity, hence time, from quite a different perspective.

    We on Mars have experienced what on Earth might be called “colloquial difficulties.” Ours are similar to in nature to what our neighbors have experienced. As a result we each have attempted to befriend our neighbors, in our own ways, in order to preserve what we each perceive to be “for the greater good, and yes perhaps vulgarly stated, for self-interest.”

    Earth has been the more successful in developing plans for disruptions should one occur. We hear that a province called Quebec has some desires to remove itself from what it has heretofore been a member of. Apparently it can remove itself from the association provided its neighboring provinces agree. Mars would like to implement such a plan but as we see it, we have been experiencing encroachments from Saturn and more recently Earth itself has seen fit to send a rover called Phoenix which is crawling around digging into our gardens.

    Martians need to have what we consider adequate nourishment too. Must we accommodate Earths’ desires to go digging about our gardens?

    As to “Fortress Mars?” Undesireable ultimately. “Fortress Earth?” Unworkable.

    Besides. Mars Needs Women.

    Posted August 16, 2008 at 9:39 pm | Permalink
  6. JK, I have enough difficulty trying to understand Earthly affairs without attempting to grapple with the inter-galactic balance of power. Frankly, I thought the Klingons were rather put upon! Even so, Mars may need women, but I would defend to the death before any of our earthly beauties be despatched there, er, except for my Mother-in-Law, of course, but sending her would be the nuclear option!

    (I have a feeling that this discussion has suddenly become rather silly and that I am responsible – sorry.)

    Posted August 17, 2008 at 5:06 am | Permalink
  7. JK says

    My fault Mr. Duff,

    You apparently are not familiar with what Americans call “B-Movies.” And there was a R&R Band named J. Geils.

    I got carried away in writing the words Mars, and Martians too often.

    I apologize for ending my missive so carelessly.

    Posted August 17, 2008 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    No worries my friends,

    We have so little hope of solving this world’s problems that we might as well have a try at Mars; at least it’s a cleaner slate.

    Anyway, après moi le déluge: I’m on vacation. Off to the beach.

    Posted August 17, 2008 at 11:38 am | Permalink
  9. JK says

    At your leisure of course Malcolm (you are on vacation).

    Am I perhaps missing something important? Seneca, it is reputed, alluded toward Nero in his treatise, De Clementia, your French phrasing in, as I recall, 56 AD.

    Two thousand years to the year two other guys, one more learned, the other less so, arrived on-scene. (JK the Less.)

    Or has, as Mr. Duff suggests, this all taken on an air of silliness?

    Posted August 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

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