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Who Started The War?

The one in Georgia. Michael Totten reports an interesting press briefing.

And apparently, some people aren't very happy about his reporting.


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kert wrote:

Actually, the guy is still off by quite a few days with his start date, larger unrest already started around 1st of august, and both abkhazia and ossetia were stirring up since spring drone shootings. hacker attacks on georgian sites already begun in july as well.

Jim Harris wrote:

Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion. Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

This opening paragraph is a good example of the amateur quality of Michael Totten's work as an independent journalist. Totten puts forward a badly incomplete timeline in response to a straw man, in order to reach a conclusion that has already been the Western consensus for weeks.

Wikipedia has a much better timeline that begins on August 1 and includes everything that Totten recounts in this opening. When Totten says, "Virtually everyone believes...," he ignores what has been in Wikipedia, with citations to the mainstream press, for more than two weeks. He's right about some of the AP press releases, but a handful of AP press releases does not amount to virtually everyone.

At the same time, Totten's expose of Russian malfeasance is as fresh as weeks-old bread. Western analysts have been saying for weeks --- for instance I heard it on NPR two weeks ago --- that Russia is the real aggressor. Of course it is not as simple as who "started it", which is typically the wrong question to ask for various reasons. The real point is that Russia used both minor and invented excuses to justify an imperialistic overreaction. Again, it's already been said many times; I'm not revealing anything in saying it and neither is Totten.

Now, in Totten's defense, it's fine for him to go on his own to report what has already been reported. Some of his interviews and photos are respectable extra evidence in support of the consensus. But he has puffed himself in the right blogosphere as a "truly independent" journalist and that part doesn't ring true. When he's independent he's not a journalist and when he's a journalist he's not independent.

ken anthony wrote:

The point you seem to miss Jim is it's not who gets the story first, it's the chorus of voices. Russia has been putting forth it's genocide b/s argument from day zero.

Russian shills are all over the place trumpeting that same song and the major media outlets bought it at first.

I can't prove it, but even minor sites have been attacked and gone offline. This has been all out war on many fronts, planned and executed.

It ain't over.

narciso wrote:

Jim if you're going to post pro-Russian propaganda; at least take a longer view:
The story behind this conflict, is long and convoluted, not as much as the Balkans; but nearly as infuriating . Who fired first is an open question, and when, it makes the West Bank & Gaza seem simple. Href> the previous month, indicates it was not as clear cut: Whereas this article, at the outset of the crisis, makes it clear of the South Ossetian provocation; href,0,4176197.story also makes it unclear as does this piece from four years ago! Before Saakashvilli took office, href, where rogue elements of the security forces are involved. Was Schueneman, planning this back then!href. This piece gives a general overview of theconflict:,25197,2419606226040,00.html

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on August 26, 2008 10:21 AM.

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