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Here we seek a rest in the shade, some cool water and a little kindness. This blog is dedicated to peace, truth, justice and a post- industrial, post-petroleum illumined world in spite of all odds against it. I very much like the line about the ancient knight (see poem below) "His helmet now shall make a hive for bees" It is reminiscent of "beating swords into ploughshares" a sentiment I heartily approve of. Thank you for visiting ~ I hope you return!

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Trying to Make Sense Of the Mess In South Ossetia

A warplane drops bombs near the Georgian city of Gori on Friday as Russian and Georgian forces battle. Courtesy AP.

I'm an amateur armchair intel wonk, something like the Monday morning quarterback or every other foaming online bloviator puffing endless hot air (we should find a way to harness that power for an alternative energy source). So as I got online this morning, I wandered around the cyber romper room of news sources and blogs, and found a few good good background bits of information.

Douglas Muir's backgrounder. written back in March 2008 (over at A Fistful Of Euros) is a good place to start, and I actually understood more about the situation in Georgia after reading it, unlike the first few I came across. Highly recommended. One point that sticks is his observation that South Ossetians and Georgians are both mostly Orthodox Christians (as are the Russians). This does not bode well. Nobody can feud more venomously than the Orthodox when they feel they are provoked. They are masters of backbiting and infighting, not to mention backstabbing and Byzantine intrigues. You can quote me on that. They do have many redeeming virtues, and I say this in all love and charity: 'live and let live ' is NOT among their prevailing attitudes.

QUOTE Couple of things you need to grasp if you’re going to understand South Ossetia. One is, it’s not very horizontal. It’s all mountains, with just enough flat ground for one modest-sized town. Almost all of it is over 1000 meters up, about a third of it over 2,000 meters.
Two, it’s not that big. There are only around 75,000 people in South Ossetia. In both area and population, it’s the smallest of the frozen conflicts.
Three, it’s poor. Really poor. I mean, Transnistria is one of the poorest corners of Europe, but Transnistria is Switzerland compared to South Ossetia. It’s basically 75,000 people living on rocks. Okay, okay, not rocks, but this is a region whose traditional economy consisted of driving sheep uphill in spring and back down again in autumn. There’s no industry to speak of. About one-third of the state’s income comes from charging tolls on the single highway. South Ossetia doesn’t export much but timber, sheep and people. Well, and there was a big counterfeiting operation making US $100 bills a couple of years back. But anyway, point is, not much there

QUOTE One of the reports I read today (can’t find the link, grr) held that the Georgians were claiming to have headed off a “column of mercenaries” coming down from the north, i.e., Russia. This is just plausible — Russian railroad troops have been busy the last week in Georgia’s other breakaway region of Abkhazia — but also sounds like a pretext. At any rate, the Georgian leadership has decided to unfreeze the conflict by bringing it to a boil. UNQUOTE


Wu Wei, also based in Tbilsi, has some updates on her site, Thoughts From the Tao.


Le Monde is live-blogging! But I don't speak French, let's see if I can get the site in English...well crud, if my teeny tiny blog can have a Babel Fish why can't Le Monde? Somebody please tell me if you know how to get it in English....


OMG, I hope Doug and Wu Wei are OK. Crap. CNN is reporting that Tbilsi has been bombed by Russian jets.


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