Discussing the Complexities of the Caucasus War

THIS IS YOUR SPACE

HAS SOMETHING you read in The Moscow Times startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? If so, write and tell us what's on your mind.
We welcome letters to the editor and have devoted this space to printing your comments. You can send your letter directly to Opinion Page Editor by e-mail at oped@imedia.ru; by fax at (7-495) 232-6529; or by post to The Moscow Times, 3 Polkovaya Ulitsa, Bldg. 1, Moscow, Russia, 127018. (If you are writing from abroad, send it to The Moscow Times, c/o IPS, 666 5th Ave, Suite 572, New York, NY 10103.)
Write in English or Russian. Praise us, criticize us or give us new ideas. Do you detect a bias in our coverage? Let us know. Think we did a good job? Please tell us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We do edit letters for grammar and style. In some cases, we cut long letters in order to fit the available space -- though we try to take care not to distort or water down your point.
We look forward to hearing from you!

Editor,
The South Ossetians were attacked by the pro-NATO Georgian government. This is the latest struggle in an ever-escalating series of Russian responses to the unbridled expansion of NATO. Once again, Russia sees the real threat that yet another state bordering sovereign Russian territory will become a NATO state. This time Russia is willing to "up its ante" and engage its military aggressively in order to stop the United States and NATO in its latest attempt to encircle Russia with NATO member states.
The United States should realize that the mindless over-expansion of NATO is the primary cause for the crisis in Georgia. The acronym NATO currently stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Just where on the map does Georgia and Ukraine come anywhere close to touching the North Atlantic? The truth is that they come nowhere close to the North Atlantic, thus the acronym NATO is very much out-dated. I propose that NATO should be renamed ERO. This would reflect the true nature of what modern NATO has become. ERO would stand for: The Encapsulate Russia Organization.
Kevin Scott
Boston


Editor,
Americans want to believe what we are hearing from Russian news sources because we want world peace and prosperity for everyone, yet photographs and personal stories that we hear from independent reporters on location differ significantly from Russia's version of the facts. This is a real problem for everyone.
Gery Allen
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Editor,
I believe Russia acted correctly against the Georgians when they invaded South Ossetia. The U.S. media are trying to paint Russia as an anti-democratic nation. But who invaded whom first?
I believe that the United States needs to get out of NATO and stop the missile-defense batteries in Poland that can only target Russia. There is no reason our two countries cannot live in peace.
Brian Kullberg
Portland, Oregon


Editor,
I cannot help but draw parallels with the Cuban crisis in 1962. Then the Soviet Union succeeded in establishing 49,000 men and nuclear missiles right under the United States' nose.
The United States and Israel have tried the same in Georgia, but unfortunately, the Russian government has been one jump ahead of them. It anticipated what they were trying to do and stopped them.
In the West, we are told that it is Russia who is the bad boy seeking to control the oil industry in Central Asia, but when you look at the threats and attacks, it is obvious that the United States is the aggressor.
Ken Hutchison
Glasgow, Scotland


Editor,
I would like to inform you that many Americans are shocked by how the Georgia-Russia conflict has been reported in the United States. Many U.S. media outlets are reporting that Russia started the war, and I find it alarming that we are being lied to. Please know that many Americans have tremendous respect for President Vladimir Putin, who rebuilt the country, and for the Russian people.
John Franklin
Portland, Oregon

Editor,
We should remind our American friends of the well-known "Monroe Doctrine" developed by U.S. President James Monroe in 1823, which dictated that any outside power trying to interfere with U.S. interests in North or South America would be punished. Fast-forward to 2008. When Russia demonstrates a similar doctrine and implements it, then it becomes an act of war. If Russia were to follow the U.S. example in Central Asia, perhaps Moscow should lend a helping hand to Cuba.
Gerard Kreeft
De Steeg, The Netherlands


Editor,
The error made by the Kremlin in invading South Ossetia cannot be swept under the rug.
Sharply worded criticism is not enough to dissuade the Kremlin from reversing its course. The next step should be economic sanctions against businesses that do business in Russia.
David Winston Lincoln
Edmonton, Alberta


Editor,
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is nothing more than a dangerous opportunist. The world must never forget that it was he who started this war.
When Serbia, which had a territorial claim on Kosovo, invaded that country in 1999, NATO decided to come to the aid of Kosovo. This sounds very much like Russia coming to the aid of South Ossetia.
I am tired of hearing that Saakashvili has a "grand vision," which has resulted so far in a loss of 15 percent in purchasing power of the Georgian currency, the national debt is still standing at over $2 billion, and in the run-up to the 2008 election, Saakashvili resorted to violence against his own people in order to secure re-election.
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was put on trial as a war criminal in The Hague. Saakashvili should get the same treatment.
Paul Logchies
Amsterdam


Editor,
As usual, the United States is on the wrong side. Georgia is a fake democracy and the birthplace of Stalin, who is still considered a hero there. The Georgians simply pushed the Russians too far.
Tim Parsons
Southampton, Virginia


Holbrooke's Objectivity



In response to "Russia Has Crossed the Line," a comment by Richard Holbrooke and Ronald Asmus on Aug. 13.

Editor,
Conspicuously absent from Holbrooke's analysis of the present conflict between Georgia and Russia was any mention of Tbilisi's initially aggressive actions against South Ossetia, the role of Western oil interests in the conflict or more generally of U.S. goals in that area of the world.
He compares the tactics of Moscow to those used by Nazi Germany at the outset of World War II. This is a worn-out cliche. It would have been better to look at the Cuban missile crisis. Moscow's attitude toward President George W. Bush's proposal to set up elements of an anti-missile system in former Soviet countries is hardly different from the reaction by John F. Kennedy to the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba in the early 1960s.
There is the violation of Iraq's territorial integrity by the Bush administration using as a pretext the presence of weapons of mass destruction in that country, which was a complete fabrication. There are also the elections that were held in South Ossetia in the 1990s, where in the presence of international observers, over 90 percent of the population voted for independence from Georgia, a bid apparently ignored by the United States, in contrast to their whole-hearted support for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. It would seem that Holbrooke hasn't done his homework.
Paul-Harvey Du Bois
Corbeil-Essonnes, France


Editor,
Holbrooke and Asmus are known for their anti-Russian bias. By comparing the Georgian crisis to the Sudeten crisis in 1938, they manipulate the facts to suit their preconceived position. To quote Robert Kagan, another anti-Russian political commentator: "The details of who did what to precipitate Russia's war against Georgia are not very important."
Gilbert Doctorow
St. Petersburg


Stuck in the 19th Century



In response to "Georgia's Big Democracy Lie," a comment by Vasily Likhachev on Aug. 14.

Editor,
Likhachev, like most Russian authorities, states that Russia was justified in invading another country while it cracked down on a possible civil war it hoped to avoid.
In most civilized countries, the passing out of passports like candy to citizens of another country population would be interpreted as interference.
Russia has no legitimate claim to South Ossetia other than what they dream up. It's time for Moscow to step into the 21st century and stopped relying on 19th-century ideas. It will not be able to continue bullying its neighbors.
Peter Welgoss
Weymouth, Massachusetts


Short-Selling the War



In response to "Gulliver's Battles," a column by Yulia Latynina on Aug. 13.

Editor,
Despite the rhetoric and counterclaim of atrocities on all sides, there is one constant: The siloviki continue to make serious money on the political and economic changes in Russia. During the two weeks leading up to the Georgian war, there had been heavy selling on the Russian stock exchanges with a major dip in the RTS and extended short selling.
There is no law against insider trading in Russia. This is how the siloviki made a fortune trading Yukos stock. As they controlled the news, they anticipated the market. These oligarchs in epaulets have it down to a fine system.
Gary K. Busch
London


No Colonization of Georgia



In response to "Georgia Caused This War," a comment by Vadim Mukhanov on Aug. 13.

Editor,
The writer does not understand Americans or their concept of democracy. Such a misreading, from a senior researcher at the Foreign Ministry's Caucasus Research Center at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations is dangerous and regrettable.
We have a saying, "It takes three elections to create a revolution."
Russia did not give Georgia or its breakaway republics enough time to resolve their passions. When the guns fire and innocent civilians die, it takes a century to truly restore peace and heal all of the wounds. Russia now has a huge wound on its southern border.
It may be true that the United States and NATO are a threat to Russia, closing in on the country from every side. That too, is a legitimate issue to debate, but as long as Russia does not attempt to colonize its smaller neighbors, NATO will not harm Russia.
R.L. Hails
Olney, Maryland


Communism and Nazism



In response to "Linking Communism With Nazism," a comment by Maxim Shevchenko on July 18.

Editor,
It was entertaining to read Shevchenko's apologia for Soviet communism.
He relied on the usual arguments that Lithuania had benefited from the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the "heroic" Soviet troops and the return of territory that the Soviets had pilfered from Poland. But there was nothing, of course, about the murder, torture and deportation of the cream of Lithuanian society. Nothing about returning the territory stolen from Latvia and Estonia either by the Soviets.
The author and television host deludes himself that the fight is against communism. Rather, the argument is about great Russian chauvinism and its imperialistic tendencies.
Finally, Shevchenko resorts to outright lies in claiming that Hitler promised the Baltic countries Soviet territory. The Baltic states were prevented from setting up any kind of independent political structures by the Nazis, and this was why they had to take up arms under Nazi colors.
Maris Ozols,
London


Editor,
Shevchenko is obviously one of these surviving Communists who has become a dogmatic Russian nationalist. He has no understanding of the fact that RussiaЂs welfare depends on global matters and Western (monetary and intellectual) investments in this country.
Lithuania's initiative to prohibit public displays of Soviet symbols is a fantastic campaign. What Shevchenko does not understand or realize behind his bizarre nationalistic mask is that Soviet symbols represent the same horror, terror and mass murders for Lithuanians as Nazi symbols represent for Jews.
Shevchenko calls Lithuania's campaign an "anti-Russian initiative." Most people in the world calls it "a fantastic initiative to eliminate memories of the worst terror-state the world has ever seen." His clumsy accusations that people in some Central European countries should have their "interests dictated by the desires of the ruling elite," only makes ShevchenkoЂs text even more ridiculous, since he himself lives in one of the world's most nondemocratic and autocratic countries and works at one of the most propagandistic state-dictated TV-channels in the world.
It's democratic that your newspaper gives Shevchenko space to express his confused thoughts, but it is scary that there are still people around with these kind of ultranationalistic opinions.
Chris Carlstrom
Moscow


Russia Cozying Up to Cuba



In response to "Sechin in 'Friendly' Visit With Castro," a Reuters story on Aug. 4.

Editor,
It's good to see that Russia is offering the hand of friendship to Cuba when Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin visited the island in early August.
The Cuban people have always had respect for Russia. Cuba needs Russia as much as Russia needs Cuba. There should be an increase in economic relations between the two countries.
The U.S. government, which imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1959, has ranted and raved about the country being a Communist dictatorship, which it certainly is not, nor was it ever.
Russia should in no way or form be linked with any sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran has so far not interfered with any the problems of others countries, like the illegal U.S. invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Besides all this, Russia and Iran have economic ties. Let these ties become as links of steel, so that both nations have respect for each other and keep away from interfering in their internal problems.
Kenneth Tellis
Mississauga, Ontario


Force-Feeding Karadzic



In response to "Lessons From Bosnia," a comment by Fyodor Lukyanov on July 29.

Editor,
This comment is a lame exercise in political correctness. For most of those who are well-informed, the supposed guilt of the former president of the Bosnian Serb republic, Radovan Karadzic, has been brutally and falsely forced-fed by the Western media for 15 years now.
The author mentions "supranational justice," but this is a theoretical construction. The United Nations war-crimes tribunal in The Hague is, first and foremost, a political institution, and its goal is to whitewash the Western criminal interests in the Balkans.
Ozren Vukobrat
Vancouver