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Exchange with James Nixey, Chatham House

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David Sketchley

Joined: 09 Jun 2005
Posts: 85

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Exchange with James Nixey, Manager, Russia and Eurasia Programmes, Chatham House re "Intellectual dishonesty and the culpability of all"


Thank you for your comments. You make interesting points and I have a lot of time for the work of Charles King and Ion Ratiu in particular. They are well established experts in the field.

But to invite comparisons with US intervention in the Balkans or Iraq is simply to talk about different motives for intervention - comparison is no more useful than comparing apples with pears. I am no expert on these areas but I would argue that where the legal case for intervention in the Balkans may be dubious, the moral case was compelling and that was a clear case of attempted genocide. That is simply not the case here.

I would probably agree with you that the failure of western policy is a big factor here…though possibly not on the detail.

Sir, this is not to enter into argument with you – you make persuasive points.

I hope you continue to look at the Chatham House website where we intend to publish more on this topic in the next month.

Kind regards

James (Nixey)

From: Josie Hock
Sent: 01 September 2008 10:01
To: James Nixey
Cc: James Sherr; Alex Nice
Subject: FW: Contact Form for Chatham House
Importance: Low

More comment for you James….

-----Original Message-----
From: davidsketchley
Sent: 29 August 2008 19:28
To: Josie Hock
Subject: Contact Form for Chatham House
Importance: Low

A visitor to the Chatham House website has contacted you. The details are as follows:

Full Name: Mr David Sketchley
Re: Intellectual Dishonesty and the Culpability of All James Nixey, Manager, Russia and Eurasia Programme


First of all let me say you title is very apt. It seems intellectual dishonesty applies to all concerned in this particular situation.

I agree that all sides are not blamless, all sides are severely hypocritical.

But you fail to analysie several aspects of the conflict:

What part did US forces play in the conflict? We know that there were war games being played by Georgian and US forces days before the Georgian attack. We know that Georgian troops have been trained not only by the US but by Israelis too.
No analysis about the motives behind the Georgian attack. You imply that it was in response to seperatist activity. Perhaps you haven't heard Prof. Charles King, Ion Ratiu Professor of Romanian Studies and Professor of International Affairs in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, who in an interview at had this to say:

Really, for the last six months or so, folks in the United States who have been watching this, and in Europe, who's been watching developments in Georgia, have been very worried that Georgia would seek some sort of military solution to the secessionist struggles that have been plaguing the country now for the better part of two decades. And what seems to have happened is that Georgia decided to move quickly and decisively, hoping I think that they would be able to take South Ossetia and that Russia would be unable or unwilling to respond.
Again, I think there was probably a degree of miscalculation and miscommunication in fact between Georgia and the United States.
Georgia for a long time, and in fact Georgians and the political elite and elsewhere have talked about an incident now 13 years ago, but 13 years ago actually this month in August, something called Operation Storm, when the Croatian military moved into a region of its own territory called the Krajina, to oust a local secessionist Serb entity. That military operation went forward with a green light from the United States after the Croatian army had in fact been trained and equipped by the United States military, succeeded.
Now, it lead to about, hundreds of thousands of Serbs being pushed out of the area, but it allowed Croatia to reassert control over its own territory, it lead directly to the agreement, the Dayton Accords on Bosnia, and I think the Georgians had become convinced that if they could do this kind of lightning strike, and succeed, they would create a situation on the ground that the Russians would have a very difficult time countering. In the end the Georgians did not succeed militarily and now we're seeing the result of that failure."

Everything leads back to the former Yugoslavia, and NATO's war of aggression on that country.
Georgian plans based on Operation Storm, Russia citing the Kosovo precedent, US training and arms, etc.

Nato's attack on the former Yugoslavia was without UNSC premission and was not in self-defence, the only 2 legitimate ways to wage war. It appears we have regressed 3 centuries to the 'just war' concept', whch is, in international illegal.

Secondly, in the Croatian seperatist war, US forces trained and armed the Croats and possibly even planned Operation Storm, according to Silber & Little in their book The Death of Yugoslavia:

"For international consumption, the Croatian government would make great play of appealing to the Krajina Serbs to stay in their homes and live as citizens of Croatia. But these appeals did little to mask the real ambitions of the Croatian government., which was to drive the Serbs out of Croatia altogether and resettle the land they had lived on for centuries with Croats from elsewhere. After the fall of Knin, Tudjman even said this publicly, calling for Croats from the diaspora to return...Croation troops outnumbered the Serb defenders by five to one. It was not only the numerical superiority that favoured the Croats. It was a military expertise that could only have been derived from their increasingly congenial relations with the United States...Colonel Leslie, of the UN garrison at Knin, recognised the strategy immediately the Croats moved in Bosnia: 'It was a textbook operation, though not a JNA textbook. Whoever wrote that plan of attack culd have gone to any NATO staff college in North America or Western Europe and scored an A-plus.' Western governments turned a blind eye to the shelling. The diplomatic acquiescence in the storming of western Slavonia in May had, in effect, given Croatia the green light to take Krajina by force...It was the first stage in what would become, during the next few days the biggest single forcible displacement of people in Europe since the Second World War. Colonel Leslie estimated...'Knn fell from 35,000-40,000 to around 500 or 600 in less than twenty-four hours.'...The Croatian media broadcast details of safe routes though which the Serbs could leave for Serb-held parts of Bosnia...there was little doubt in the minds of those on the receiving end of Croatian artillery that the attack had more than a military objective...The Croatian army began hitting the very road that the refugees, escorted in places by UN troops, were using to flee into neighboring Bosnia...But the Croats had re-armed with the help of the West. Retired US generals helped them plan their operation. NATO was
on side too. In fact, during Operation Storm, on August 4, NATO warplanes bombarded Serb communications sytems, ostensibly because the Serb radar had locked on to NATO jets. NATO airpower, in effect, joined forces with the Croatian army in support of Operation Storm. Western politicians kept quiet....The Croatians embarked on an officially sanctioned campaign of burning and looting which damaged over 20,000 houses owned by Serbs. During the weeks that followed, well after the Croatian army was firmly in control of the territory, elderly Serbs were still being killed. "We are still finding the bodies dumped on the roadside each morning." one UN official said more than two months later. "Elderly Serbs who stayed behind during Operation Storm are still being killed every day." In February 1994, American envoys had offered Tudjman a straight choice: abandon your war against the Muslims of Bosnia, and we, the US, will back your plans to take Krajina...Zagreb and Washington signed a pact on military co-operation."
Silber & Little, The Death of Yugoslavia, Penguin Books/BBC Books 1996, pp. 356-360)

Whatever, they were intimately involved in the ethnic cleansing which was the point of that operation.

How can anyone who supported the agression on Serbia and Iraq possibly criticise or lecture Russia for doing the very same.

The sanest comments have come from the Cato Institute's Ted Galen Carpenter, who as you know is the is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author of eight and the editor of 10 books on international affairs, including Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America, America's Coming War with China : A Collision Course over Taiwan, The Korean Conundrum: America's Troubled Relations with North and South Korea, Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America, The Captive Press: Foreign Policy Crises and the First Amendment, Beyond NATO: Staying Out of Europe's Wars, and A Search for Enemies: America's Alliances after the Cold War. Carpenter is contributing editor to the National Interest and serves on the editorial boards of Mediterranean Quarterly and the Journal of Strategic Studies, and is the author of more than 350 articles and policy studies. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the National Interest, World Policy Journal, and many other publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television programs in the United States, Latin America, Europe, East Asia, and other regions. Carpenter received his Ph.D. in U.S. diplomatic history from the University of Texas.

Chatham House should urge similar intelligent action.

I copy his article here:

Kosovo Precedent Prevails
by Ted Galen Carpenter


When the United States and its key European allies ignored Russia’s protests and recognized Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in February, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blithely insisted that the Kosovo situation was unique and set no international precedent whatsoever. Prominent members of the foreign policy communities in Europe and the United States echoed her argument.

Moscow’s August 26 decision to recognize the independence of Georgia’s separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia demonstrates the arrogant folly of that position. In just a matter of months, the Kosovo precedent has backfired on the United States and generated dangerous tensions between Russia and the West.

It is difficult to imagine how Washington and its NATO allies could have more egregiously mishandled the Kosovo situation. Western policy has been a debacle from its beginnings in the early 1990s. When Belgrade attempted to suppress the secessionist campaign by the Albanian majority in Kosovo, NATO intervened with air strikes to compel Serbia to relinquish control of the province to an international occupation force. NATO’s actions ignored Moscow’s vehement objections and showed contempt for Russia’s long-standing interests in the Balkans. The Clinton administration also bypassed the UN Security Council (and, hence, Russia’s veto) to launch that military operation, exhibiting further disdain for Russia’s prerogatives as a permanent member of the Council and a major power in the international system.

Russian leaders fumed, but Moscow was too weak to do anything but issue futile protests. Ultimately, the NATO powers offered Moscow the sop of a belated UN resolution that professed to recognize Serbia’s territorial integrity, which included Kosovo, even though that province had been put under international control. How much that resolution was worth became apparent in 2007 and early 2008 when the United States and the major European Union governments pressed for Kosovo’s independence without Belgrade’s consent and—once again—without UN Security Council authorization. Moscow warned at the time that such action would set a dangerous international precedent; countries as diverse as China, India, Indonesia, Spain and Greece expressed the same concern. Most ominously, Russian officials specifically cited Abkhazia and South Ossetia as places where the Kosovo precedent could apply.

Russia has now demonstrated that two can play the game of using military force against another country to detach discontented ethnic enclaves. And the United States and NATO are not able to do much about it.

Rather than escalate the already alarming tensions with Russia, Washington needs to walk back its policy on Kosovo and seek a deal with Moscow. The U.S.-EU position on Kosovo is untenable from the standpoint of both wise diplomacy and basic logic. American officials have put themselves in the awkward position of arguing that quasi-democratic Georgia’s territorial integrity is sacrosanct while fully democratic Serbia’s is not. Moreover, despite the expectation of leaders in Washington and Pristina that the vast majority of countries would quickly recognize Kosovo’s independence, only a meager forty-seven have done so—and most of them are long-standing American allies and clients. The rest of the world still worries about the broader implications of the Kosovo precedent and withholds recognition.

Washington should propose a mutual diplomatic retreat to Moscow, in which the United States would rescind its recognition of Kosovo’s independence and urge the Kosovars to accept Belgrade’s proposal for a negotiated status of “enhanced autonomy,†which comes very close to de facto independence. Russia would be expected to adopt a similar policy with regard to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

If U.S. leaders do not suggest this course, they will face the unpleasant prospect of further demonstrating NATO’s inability to do anything effective to reverse Russia’s conduct in Georgia. American miscalculations have already underscored the alliance’s impotence; it is not a lesson that officials should want to reinforce. Moreover, if Washington and Moscow do not back off from their tenacious positions, relations between the two countries—already in bad shape—may degenerate into a new cold war. Conversely, some common sense and flexibility on the twin secessionist issues could be a catalyst for repairing that important relationship.

I would be interested to hear/read your comments.

Yours Sincerely
David Sketchley
Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:05 pm
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