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Web Letter

Thank you very much for this article--it is a breath of fresh air amid the stagnant name-calling and irrational fear-based comments that we have heard from polititians and most of the news reporters in North America.

Georgia has committed a hollocaust against South Ossetians, no matter how much the US politicians try to avoid that fact. Russia did do the right thing, no matter how much we do not like to admit it. I would not be so ignorant as to compare Chechnya to South Ossetia--in Chechnya it was not the people but the bands of criminals who were creating problems; in South Ossetia don't want to be forced to live under the dictatorially drawn land division by Stalin (who was Georgian). Stalin (real name: Dzhugashvilli) divided the country of Ossetia in two and gave the southern part to the Georgian Soviet Republic as an autonomous region for "administrative purposes only." Stalin did the same with Abkhazia.

I would like to appologies to the Russian governement and people for the amount of malice and distrust we showed.

Lana Kapiniak

Duncan, BC, Canada

Sep 28 2008 - 8:35pm

Web Letter

On August 13, Mark Ames wrote that Russia had "surprised its Western detractors by calling a halt to the country's offensive," and that this should force us to look more skeptically at claims regarding Russia's nefarious purposes. Talk about leading with your chin! Two days later, the actual meaning of the halt Ames was so quick to credit remains unclear--doesn't this suggest he should reconsider his own analysis?

That runs, it seems, as follows: the conflict in Georgia represents a clash between two "guiding concepts for international relations--national sovereignty and the right to self-determination." All that's fine as far as it goes, but it tends to neglect much of the historical context, and doing so, gives birth to some pretty strange notions.

For example, Ames has the West "sid[ing] with self-determination and redrawing of national borders" in Kosovo (rather than being forced to respond, after years of sometimes ignominious avoidance, to ethnic cleansing and its after-effects). Even more startling, he not only seems to accept at face value Russian peacekeeping, but has Russians joining South Ossetians in looking at the concept of self-determination and wondering "should the same principle not be applied to them?" (a query that would no doubt startle a lot of people in Chechnya, not to mention the Kremlin).

Ames offers his analysis, he says, because "up until now this war was framed as a simple tale of Good Helples Democratic Guy Georgia versus Bad Savage Fascist Guy Russia." Achieving a more nuanced understanding of what's going on in Georgia right now is a laudable goal, but it won't be accomplished simply by redistributing the white and black hats.

Gordon Sullivan

Moscow, Russia

Aug 15 2008 - 1:44pm

Web Letter

Thanks to Mr. Ames for setting the record straight about the conflict. I would like to add just a bit of information to help readers who are interested further investigate what exactly happened and to help put some perspective on perhaps why there is so little credible information presented in US media.

• US military troops accompanied and fought alongside Georgian troops when they attacked South Ossetia.
• Many of the Georgian "troops" were actually mercenaries from former CIS states and elsewhere trained by US troops who are stationed outside the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.
• Georgia is a good "friend" to the US partly because it spends millions on US weapons and because of the oil pipeline that runs through it.
•Just as Russian troops made their way into South Ossetia, the Bush Administration rapidly increased the shipment of US arms into Georgia.
•Two days ago the city of Moscow observed a day in memory of those who died in South Ossetia. Every major embassy/consulate except the US held its flag at half mast to show respect--what an embarrassment to the people of the United States!

What I have stated above can be easily backed up by eye witness reports on the ground, by photographs and by numerous independent news sources throughout the world. Please take the time to investigate for yourselves what actually happened. Be very skeptical of US media. Though it is difficult to confirm, I suspect that the US media is heavily censored and presents to the people of the US the agenda of this Administration and the elitists who support it.

I feel ashamed by the actions of my government. On behalf of reasonable, rational, thinking Americans I would like to apologize to the world for the actions of the US government and its egocentric and reckless behavior.

Brandon Poulson

Waitsfield, VT

Aug 15 2008 - 8:14am