Friday, August 15, 2008

The Russian Bear is Stirring Again

Author: Glenn Beck,

Intellectual IP belonging to Glenn Beck. For actual article, please see link above.
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the Intellectual IP contained in this post that is outside of his own, separate commentary.
This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes

"This is for America. This is for NATO. This is for Bush."

These were the phrases that the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvilli, told me were on Russian bombs falling before, during and after the numerous cease-fires that have come and gone since the Georgian-Russian conflict began.

He went on to say that he believed the Russians were not fighting a war with Georgia; in reality, they were fighting a war against the idea of Georgia, the governing principles behind it.

To have a flourishing democracy in a neighboring country is seen as a threat. It is a stark contrast from Russia's brand of state-controlled pseudo-capitalism. The Russians, he said, "want to kill the idea of freedom, and by proxy they imagine they fight a war with the United States."

Although the name Georgia is familiar to the United States, the country isn't. Most Americans don't know its remarkable story. The first time I spoke to Saakashvilli a few months earlier, it was under much more pleasant circumstances. I found him to be a young, energetic and well-spoken reformer who in many ways understands our founding fathers better than most Americans.

He spoke to me about his vision for Georgia, the vision that transformed it from a failed state to a burgeoning democracy with a quickly growing economy.

He said, "the government is going to help you in the best way possible, by doing nothing for you, by getting out of your way. Well, I exaggerate, but you understand. Of course we will provide you with infrastructure and help by getting rid of corruption, but you have all succeeded by your own initiative and enterprise, so you should congratulate yourselves."
Saakashvilli turned one of the most crooked nations on the planet into a place where people want to do business. His way of dealing with Georgia's incredibly corrupt police was amazing. No talk, just action.

"The first thing we did a few years ago when I became president: We fired the entire police force of the country." That's right, about 40,000 officers were fired, by his count. New recruits were brought in, and he told me that the public confidence in the police skyrocketed from 5 percent to 70 percent.

The notion that Saakashvilli believes in the ideas that formed our country isn't a surprise. He attended Columbia University Law School and studied our founding fathers, becoming determined to give the people of Georgia the same opportunities and freedoms that we take for granted here.

Imagine a nation with ideals forged in the traditions of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Monroe, sitting in what once was the Soviet Union. Now imagine how much that might be appreciated by ex-KGB agents like Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister.

When I spent a half an hour with Saakashvilli on my show this week, his mood was much different than in our earlier conversation. I told him that if Americans knew the story of Georgia, they would realize how important it was. I asked him to speak directly to America, tell us what is really happening and why we should care.

He said, "when the Soviet Union collapsed, when the Cold War was over, when I went to study in the U.S. and finally I realized my dream, I never thought that this evil would come back again. I never thought the KGB people would again try to run the world. And that's exactly what's happening now. What`s at stake here is America's -- America's ideals. If it will collapse in Georgia, it will collapse in other countries and in other places as well."

Luckily for Georgia, the world has generally aligned against Russia's aggression. Whether there are any teeth behind the talk is still unknown. Saakashvilli expressed gratitude for the supportive comments made by President Bush and both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama.

Even the United Nations issued a statement to express "serious concerns at the escalation of violence." Incredibly, that didn't seem to stop Russia. Who would have thought? If things get worse, I'll expect the U.N. to issue a harshly worded letter, a disapproving glare and maybe even a mildly annoyed "tsk tsk."

It's hard to know for sure what is really behind this conflict. Analysts have theories; citizens have sides. But even if you look past the 'he said, she said," in the end, it still goes back to a war being fought over ideals.

Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan led the effort to bring down the Soviet Union, partly by spending them into oblivion. We had the resources, we unleashed our economy, and we won (at least temporarily). We won by using the same principles that Saakashvilli talked to me about.

But he wasn't the only one watching and learning. Russia learned as well, and they now appear to be doing the same things that we did to them back in the '80's. Unless we wise up, we risk seeing the same result. We taught them this game. We can't allow it to be used against us.

The long-term solution is to make ourselves stronger and more self-sufficient so that when these problems arise, we
can't be held hostage. We need to become energy independent and financially solvent. But in the short term? I'm just glad I'm not president so I don't have to make these decisions. (Yes, I know you are, too.)

For now, we have to do what we can to strongly support Georgia, start to get our own ship in order, and take seriously the messages sent by the bombings.

"This is for America. This is for NATO. This is for Bush."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rose-Coloured Olympic Glasses

Russia's Natalia Paderina and Georgia's Nino Salukvadze hugged after winning Olympic silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the women's 10-meter air pistol competition.
The rivals kissed each other on the cheek after standing on the medal podium with China's Guo Wenjun, who won the gold medal in the event.
Waving flower bouquets high, the women smiled broadly at the audience.
"If the world were to draw any lessons from what I did, there would never be any wars," Salukvadze, 39, said afterward, according to media reports. The reports described the two as friends.

Are you serious here folks? Look - I love the Olympic spirit (or what it used to be). I believe peace is an admirable goal and all. But let's stop smoking the pro-China and other Olympic ganja being passed around here. I won't go off on all the pro-China crap. But rather stick to this silly and childish quote. These two are friends. These two respect and appreciate each other. But come on, one hug bringing about peace? You have got to be kidding me. This is a fight over territory, land, resources and respect. I am sure that people in Georgia and Russia, especially those in the region do not want the conflict as it hurts them severely. But, even if every single civilian in the region did not want conflict, one cannot say this would not happen and there would be no wars. In this case, there is the Russian government under Putin, driven to achieve past "glory". This government takes a hard stance on matters of territory and perceived threats by internal terrorists or past breakaway "republics" (let us use this in quotes here because they are really republics in name only). Moreover, this is just as much a conflict about resources as it is territory. I take both sides with a grain of salt as to the reasons. But, the bottom line is there is oil in the region, and if nothing else access to resources and securing a pipeline at the very least. Even if every Georgian and Russian in the region hugged, held hands, made daisy chains, smoked some herb, and did all that other hippy bullshit; this conflict would still be going on. Why? Putin and an aggressive Russia and long-standing ethnic issues.

Moreover, conflict will always exist. It frustrates me how people think conflict can be eliminated and just disappear. Do the vast majority of people want conflict, violence and war. No. Does the elimination of religion eliminate the cause for war? No... no it does not anti religious liberals. Religion, like anything else is a cog in the wheel for defining all causes of war. Does adhering to the new religion of strict environmentalism eliminate most resource-based causes for war? No... no it does not Earth-worshiping environmental liberals. The quest for resources will always exist and in many regions resources will always be in demand. War and violence will always exist be it about beliefs, ancestry or resources. And furthermore, war and violence will always exists because of jealousy and hatred. Those two emotions cannot be eliminated. Can the threat and the existence of violence and conflict be mitigated? Yes, yes it can. This can be done through teaching responsibility, respect, conservation, morality (yes left-wing liberals, basic morality is a necessary part of a peaceful life, teaching that everything is relative... except for the worship of the environment... doesn't bring peace), etc. will bring a more stable and peaceful world. But, without bringing in pop culture to the equation - as Alfred says to Bruce in The Dark Knight "Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

Folks - there will always be evil in the world. There will always be those who do, just want to watch the world burn and inflict pain on innocent people. We can mitigate this... but all the free health care, money to the third world, free education, etc... that will not eliminate this. Why? Just as good is inherent in the world, so is evil. Evil will always exist. And we must, therefore, always be vigilant of this and be prepared to do what is necessary to ensure that the good in the world endures.

So, will a bunch of worldwide hugs save humanity? No.

See for additional input from a source far wiser than myself.