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Propaganda war

Alistair Burnett Alistair Burnett | 10:54 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

Did Russia invade Georgia or was its military operation there a case of humanitarian intervention?

The World TonightThis is the nub of the propaganda war that has been fought out between the Georgians (with increasingly vocal backing from the US and the EU) and the Russians (with the support of the separatist leaderships in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and countries like Serbia).

The World Tonight - along with much of the rest of the BBC and other news organisations - has given the conflict over the past two weeks extensive coverage. Before the fighting escalated many people - including journalists covering the story - had barely heard of the places that have become such familiar names.

Russian tanks on way to South Ossetia borderI think The World Tonight is an exception to this. We have been covering the simmering conflict for several months as tensions rose following the recognition of Kosovo's independence from Serbia by the US and much of the EU in February - a move seen as a breach of international law by Russia, but seen as a precedent by Abkhazia and South Ossetia who compare their situation in Georgia with that of Kosovo in Serbia - another story we have followed closely. So hopefully our listeners have been well-placed to make sense of the conflict when it escalated so dramatically a fortnight ago with the Georgian assault on the Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

I have been asked why we have done as much as we have on the story. In one sense, the increase in tension between Russia and the West that the conflict has added to is obviously an important development. Our presenter Robin Lustig has blogged on this. Some observers have even pointed out that if Georgia had already become a member of NATO (something its leaders as well as the US and the UK say they want), the alliance could well be at war with Russia today.

Lady outside damaged building in Gori, Sout OssetiaThe other reason we have devoted considerable time to the story is the fact that it is August and at this time of year there are usually fewer big stories around which would have competed with the Georgia story. I was in France on holiday when the fighting started and the story dominated the airwaves there too.

Our coverage has attracted much comment from audiences too. Like most conflicts, this one has polarised many listeners and we have been accused of bias.

One listener wrote: "Why does the BBC insist on talking about a Russian 'invasion' of Georgia? If Russia has invaded Georgia, how come Georgia's government is still in place, a peace agreement signed, troop withdrawals underway? Russian troops are in Georgia, chiefly in areas not controlled by Tbilisi for a decade or more, but this is not the same as invading Georgia."

Another wrote:"I listen to you every night and like the usual unbiased and hard questioning approach to get both sides of an issue. But last night's programme left me wondering why your presenters did not challenge the Russian view of what is happening in Georgia."

First off, I have to acknowledge that we did use the term "invasion" once but this was a slip because I think the term is best avoided as it could be interpreted as taking the Georgian side of the argument.

We have striven to be as impartial as possible in reporting this conflict. But this has not been easy. As my colleague Jon Williams has blogged, it has been difficult for our reporters in the region to get a full picture of what has been going on, though I would say they have been coping with those difficulties very well. The increasing sophistication of both sides in presenting their case via English-speaking politicians and military spokesmen has also made it more difficult for newsdesks - as Peter Wilby argued in the Guardian on Monday - and has increased the onus on journalists to inform themselves about the ins and outs of the dispute.

I hope you agree with me that we have approached our coverage of the conflict from an informed perspective and we have done our audiences a service.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I have been watching BBC World's coverage and as a neutral 'observer' from India, my opinion is that your reporters and news readers have been pro-west than neutral.

    (Note that I am not talking about the actual conflict itself (who's right and who's wrong), but your coverage of it.)

  • Comment number 2.

    Alistair your comment that it's difficult to get a true and full picture in conflict situations is true in every war. Reporters are biased when embedded with troops, when not it's practically impossible to get information, otherwise you run the risk of getting your head blown off!
    The point is everybody has a objective and an agenda! The Russians, Georgians, US, UK, French and German government agencies have their own view the want to represent.
    You mention the importance of stripping your language of pejorative statements. Whilst that's true, the major problem is that in this topic, the news organisations had carried out insufficient preparation. I recall emailing Damian Grammaticus whilst he was in Moscow doing a trivial human interest filler last winter, that he ought to be in the S.Ossetia, because it was going to blow up!

    I think the Russian will enforce a Kosovo solution. It's pro-rata for what happened last year. The US and European's ignored Russia's view. The US, EU and UN are going to have to understand is that this region is of supreme importance to the Russians. It's like the Caribbean to the US. Russia will see it as reapplying balance

  • Comment number 3.

    'If Russia has invaded Georgia, how come Georgia's government is still in place, a peace agreement signed, troop withdrawals underway'

    Many countries have been invaded and their government has remained in place, the USSR during World War Two for example. It is also puzzling why troop withdrawls would be needed if there hadn't been an invasion.

    I would have thought that sending your armed forces into another country to conduct aggressive military action against that country easily fits into a definition of 'invasion'.

    To not call something that is plainly an invasion, an invasion is being partial towards the Russians and something you never seem to do for the UK, the US, or Israel.

  • Comment number 4.

    I watched some of the BBC television report when the fighting broke out, and it seemed that the presentation was incredibly biased, and I didn't even know what Russia's position in the conflict was until I looked at a newspaper article.

  • Comment number 5.

    If Russian troops are on territory which is unequivocally within the nation of Georgia then this is an 'invasion' of Georgia.

    If they had remained within the disputed areas, and (from their perspective) in defence of Russian nationals then I would agree that the term 'invasion' would be more questionable.

  • Comment number 6.

    It is interesting however that none of the newsagencies (including the BBC) are reporting about the Georgian dislike of their president, a man who has been accused by the majority of his people that he stole the last elections which is an important point when considering the US/EU support of Georgia. Also what about the actual UN agreement that was in place which did not allow Georgians to enter Ossetia? Thus it would effectively make this a Georgian invasion of an autonomous province of the country. As time passes I think the Kosovo “domino theory” will confirm itself. It seems all along Serbia was right when it talked about the implications of what I think was ludicrous decision by the West but that is another issue. Anyhow I support the fact that you have published an article like this as it gives us a chance to debate reliability and bias, a feature truly unavailable on other news networks however evident in every single way.

  • Comment number 7.

    I beleive BBC was (and for that matter CNN) etc were unbelievabally biased covering this war. Bridget Kendall tried ito nfuse some balance but I think later she also "toe" the "line". Only "The Independent" which I was signed into had a fair coverage reviewing both sides. Reading BBC, Sky and CNN was alrming as they constantly pointed that Russia the Agressor attacking civilised west. No mention of Western breaches of international law by invading Iraq, Serbia etc. Some Serbians still are refugees while Muslims and Croatians settled. KLA (KOSOVA) with the help of Americans throw lot of Serbians out and never allowed them back. Guardian and Independent seems more fair to these people as same as to Ossetians. I am thinking twice now when read or see BBC coverages these days. Surely Georgains as much should take the blame as Russians and that was ignored with the bias coverage including newsnight.
    thanks

  • Comment number 8.

    I can't get too excited about coverage. The real truth will take time to come out.

    Bottom line is that Russia would tolerate a western Georgia about as much as the Us would tolerate a Russian Grenada .....

    The Kosovo Serbia break up was bound to create a precedent ...

    So what next? Tibet? Burma? Darfur? (Chinese interests?)

    No the reality will be that the UN becomes impotent and N Korea and Iran will become real problems in the resultant vacuum.

  • Comment number 9.

    In the Economist a few weeks back it clearly stated Russia was looking for an excuse to invade georgia ... onviously it got one!

  • Comment number 10.

    i think in general, BBC coverage of the war has been very much pro-Georgian, even though it is far more neutral than most American sites such as CNN and FOX...

    1. most of your stories never mention, or barely mention the fact that it was the Georgians who started the war first.

    2. most of your stories never mention or barely mention the fact that S.O had held a referendum for independence and that the majority of S.O citizens favors either independence or union with Russia.

    3. when you reports the opinions of various governments, you generally fail to mention their connection with the west (or with the Russians, for that matter)

    4. you have repeatedly reported that the Russians are using disproportional force. But the fact is, the escalation of force by the Russians is far less disproportional when compared to what the UK and the US is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan or what Israel is doing in Gaza.

    BBC seldom if ever reports anything about proportionality when Israel makes incursions into Gaza for rockets attacks that hit nothing but dirt. Yet when Russia makes incursions into Georgia for artillery fires that killed 15 Russian soldiers the tone of the reports are totally different

  • Comment number 11.

    the Russians (with the support of the separatist leaderships in South Ossetia and Abkhazia

    Dear Alistair

    How are separatist leaderships in South Ossetia?

    Prime Minister Yuri Morozov (russian)? Minister of Defense - russian general Vasilii Lynev?
    Head of the Security Council - russian general Anatoly Barankevich?
    Head of security service - FSB general Anatoly Baranov?

  • Comment number 12.

    For me it is so normal to come to this site and read more or less pro-western stand of informing. If something is really neutral, that surprise me.

    I don't want to talk about Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo. BBC failed there a big time.

    Typical example of double standards.

  • Comment number 13.

    one more example of propaganda:
    ru.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd1AfNA3bQo
    But the clip itself is an example of propaganda.

  • Comment number 14.

    Is it not obvious that GERORGIA INVADED
    S. Ossetia?

    Did you report that this began immediately after joint military exersises with US forces ended?

    I sincerely hope that there are good answers to this, since you claim to have been quite familiar with situation.

    After your response, there may be further comment.

  • Comment number 15.

    Shock horror - pro western, surely we (the BBC) should be talking about helping the Russians or someone else crushing the evil west. The BBC might be a hotbed of communist propaganda but it is actually based in the west.
    Sure Georgia invaded first but when you look at the level of Russian response or over response, its pretty obscene.
    Pointing at Americas crimes misses the basic point, A's torture or murder does not excuse nor does it ever excuse B to do the same, if it did the whole world would rapidly descend back into barbarism (funny how the words barbarism and Russia connect so easily).

    By the way a final point, Putin might like saber rattling but he knows that in a war with America there would be one winner and one loser. - And a scary add-on, a lot of Americas nuclear weapons capacity is now in first strike weapons meaning they have even less to lose in taking it to final solutions - especially frightening if you think of who currently has that button.

  • Comment number 16.

    "Is it not obvious that GERORGIA INVADED
    S. Ossetia?"

    Erm, by definition you cannot invade an area which is legally yours anyway.

  • Comment number 17.

    #16

    We await the response of the NEWSNIGHT team.

    Do we deal with facts or support partisan views?

    The answer weighs on the future of BBC's NEWSNIGHT.

  • Comment number 18.

    14/15: South Ossetia is part of Georgia so they couldn't invade themselves.

    16: This is about the coverage on the World Tonight, not Newsnight.

    The Newsnight blog is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/fromthewebteam/

  • Comment number 19.

    We await the response of WORLD TONIGHT team.

    Do we deal with facts or support partisan views?

    The answer weighs on the future of WORLD TONIGHT.

    Might S. Ossetia being a part of Georgia be a matter of opinion,

    or do partisans admit such quetions?

  • Comment number 20.

    #18

    It is fundamental whether the BBC panders to partisan propoganda or deals with facts.

    For propaganda, one can watch Fox News.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have read all your articles about the conflict between Russia and Georgia. I must acknowledge the BBC is just about the only media I know of which tries so hard to stay unbiased. In some articles, you have been more pro-Georgian/pro-Russian (that is inevitable), but I congratulate you on your extensive efforts to show both sides of this conflict.
    Special care is taken in choosing the right words : neutral and non critical (French media almost always relate news with emotional language that makes it sound far too biased in many ways). That is why I believe the BBC is one of the most reliable news programm avaible today.
    In my opinion, no media can be 100% unbiased, and part of the interpretation of events lies in the eye of the beholder anyway. At least the BBC relates facts and questions its own work by even allowing readers to give their opinion.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 22.

    I've found the BBC's coverage both top-notch and largely unbiased (there are a few moments where pro-Georgian sympathies seem to simmer quietly beneath the surface). The interviews with Mikhail Saakashvili and Sergey Lavrov have all been outstanding, and I think the BBC's efforts to be fair with all involved are generally successful.

  • Comment number 23.

    It is unbelievable how biased BBC and other British media have been towards Georgian side in this conflict - subsequently US side. It is unfortunate that British media have been "polluting" minds of people.

  • Comment number 24.

    In the war between Britain and Russia, it's nice for a change to see BBC tweak the bear's nose. Russians don't like hearing news about their country that puts it in a bad light. They are shielded from it by lies at home where the government has taken control of all of the media. Russia is a farce of a democracy, no more so than its client state Iran. I'd like to see BBC do a story comparing the Georgian attack on South Ossetia with the Russian destruction of Chechnya, especially Grozny. If people living in South Ossetia and Abkhazia have Russain passports then they are Russian citizens. They should be forced to go back home to Russia where they belong.

  • Comment number 25.

    #24

    I'd like to see BBC show what attrocities UK and USA committed in IRAQ and Afghanistan - are we forgetting all the newsplashes about prisoners being beaten up and tortured naked?

  • Comment number 26.

    Also according to you then all citizens holding British passport should go back to Britain and not retire in Australia - there wouldn't be enough space for all people who ecape from your island...

  • Comment number 27.

    "The World Tonight - along with much of the rest of the BBC and other news organisations - has given the conflict over the past two weeks extensive coverage."

    Here we go again - quantity does not equate to quality. You can repeat the same flawed arguments every ten minutes ad infinitum and it will still not make them right.

    I have watched some of the coverage but my main sources have been from the Internet simply because the major news outlets in the UK (including the BBC) cannot be trusted to report accurately.

    There is no doubt that the failures of the BBC in holding its own against Blair and Campbell has done untold damage to its reporting quality. The US and Britain have been guilty of horrendous acts against those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the brutality in Guantanamo Bay continues largely unreported.

    The BBC must establish its own news agenda and not simply reflect what is commercially popular. I once enjoyed the controversy of the BBC in daring to bring facts to us. Sadly all we have now is watered down and wantonly mediocre copycat journalism.

    It is a waste of our license fees.

  • Comment number 28.

    #18

    If South Ossetia is an autonomous region of Georgia then what should that mean in terms of how the mother state treats it?

    Would we bomb Cornwall if they went ahead and voted for full independence?

    And how much of what we read relates to unimportant detail because it is deliberately obscuring the facts we truly need to know.

    Commercially dependent organisations seldom bite the hands that feed them but in the BBCs case it is license payers who need to be catered for and not the UK government.

  • Comment number 29.

    Doesn't the title of this piece say it all?

    Propaganda War. Not truth war or lies war.

    There are no doubt many controversies in what has been reported by ALL media outlets but there is only one set of facts. Is it not better to wait for the facts to emerge convincingly rather than obscure them in opinion masquerading?

    We know how crafty the US can be in insurgency. We know how clever can be the "under talk" that goes unreported when deals are struck. We know there must be sweeteners attached to the deal struck with Poland (for example) so what are they and who are the beneficiaries.

    What is and has happened in Georgia seems to me to have been obscured by bias born out of the ages when there was no Russia but there was an ugly communist regime that every one in the West loved to hate. It seems that the hate has never gone away and that the Russians will never receive recognition or justification for their behaviour. That is sad given just how many excuses the BBC is prepared to make for the USA.

  • Comment number 30.

    I was very disappointed of BBC's coverage on the conflict. I found it biased and unfair, lacking real facts and giving data provided by the Georgian side or even worst by their President whose tirades make you question his mental status.As far as CNN or other American media coverage , it was not even worthy of watching, it was super propaganda, to the point that make you wonder, if it was written by journalists and reporters who are supposed to be objective, or a special propaganda team for brainwashing. I agree with a comment here that it was not even mentioned about the dissatisfaction of the Georgian people with their own presidenst. The media propaganda was fully mobilized trying to distort the facts and so far has been very successful at it, undermining the real reason that started the conflict (calling it “an assault on the separatists supported by Russia” – when in fact it was a brutal, but miscalculated attack on the Georgian side.

  • Comment number 31.

    28: The question is can you invade your own territory, and the answer is no.

    The care that the BBC are taking over language in this conflict involving two foreign nations as compared with ones we are involved in is telling.

  • Comment number 32.

    BBC trying to be balanced whats makes them be biased in favor of Russia...
    Suprise attack by Georgia??are you kidding me??
    The militants were constantly firing on Georgian villages (that eventually we ethically cleaned ) why bbc never highlighting this fact???
    Why bbc never brought HRW coment about Russia figure of "2000 dead civilians"??
    let's investigate what happened,why Russians are refusing to the international monitoring?
    and to all anti Amerivan leftists who advocating the Russians:shame on you,why the russian cluster bomb is justify more than Israeli one??
    why Palestinian refugges displaced 60 yaers ago are more valueble than 350000 Georgians ethnicly cleased from Abxazia and SO??
    you do not really have liberal values,never had them...
    Sorry for my english,just wanted to make a point..
    Rezo from Georgia

  • Comment number 33.

    I just don't get it. in the essay u said you wanna avoid the word 'invasion', but just at the beginning of the article the word 'invade' is the third word you used.

  • Comment number 34.

    And who is a big player in this propaganda war? How often have we seen Sakashvili, pres of Georgia, making a statement on Euronews, lets say? What about the presidents of South Ossetia or Abkhazia? Are they ever shown or even identified? No, of course not.

    I know, you can argue that these countries, which broke away from Georgia 15 years ago, have no independence status. Then, what about Kosovo? How much coverage was there while the Albanians were preparing for recognition of Kosovo? We were even shown meetings of their "parliament" long before there was any status of independence that was recognized by anyone.

    It seems to be always us and them and the media, as usual, has been with them.

  • Comment number 35.

    to #16,18,etc, saying
    Erm, by definition you cannot invade an area which is legally yours anyway.

    So, by your definition China can't invade Taiwan, Greek Cypriot government can't invade nothern Cyprus killing turkish "peacekeepers", Azerbajan can't invade Karabakh, killing "armenian separatists", Serbia can't invade Kosovo? List goes on and on and on. Be real.
    In addition, there is nothing legal about Abkhazia and North Ossetia being part of Georgia. Ever since Georgia emerged as an independent country these were and still are contested conflict zones.

  • Comment number 36.

    A number of times I was trying to post a set of links to UN official documents, which would provide an information for an unbiased person as to how this conflict was developing and who are to blame. These are mostly pre-conflict statements, unbiased by the propaganda of recent days. Interestingly enough, these posts were somehow "moderated out". I assume this is a software robot, which rejects posts containing web links. Hence, below I put the post again, but with those links castrated/removed - let's see. Investigative reporting, would it be present at BBC, would certainly have had to cover and analyse these documents.

    1. Terrorist acts in Abkhazia prior to current hostilities are summarized in the following UN official statements and news releases.
    Bombing and escalation in Abkhazia, short half-pagers: UN news flushes nid=3280 and NewsID=27291 More details in UN mission in Georgia report [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    UN Secretary General report
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    contains detailed description of who did what and where This is a rather lengthy 16-pager. In brief, points 14 through 25 are of interest to those willing understand the nature and origins of military provocations in this conflict.

    2. UN Security Council docs on South Ossetiaavailable either from UN of securitycouncilreport.org:
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    A very informative UN SC report #3 of July 18 was posted on July 20, 2008 on securitycouncilreport_dot_org
    3. UN mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has lots of relevant pre-conflict info. On the russian responce to military option, unomig news id 10955 of July 7, 2008
    On the russian draft resolution urging the non-use of force id 10941 of July 9, 2008.

  • Comment number 37.

    I would expect there to be as much bias in "western"reporting, as there is in Anti-Western reporting. As long as you expect and recognise it, what's the problem? Oh you wanted someone to think for you....

  • Comment number 38.

    These comments are informative, in that a
    certain number of posters believe that the BBC news reporting should be partisan.

    Consciously doing that would destroy the BBC's reason for existence.

    Yesterday, the BBC made a maximum effort to present both sides and to find facts.

    I say: "bravo and keep it up!"

  • Comment number 39.

    I'm a Russian and definetly have own preference in this conflict.

    But I believe BBC coverage was professional and nonpartisan (which I can't say about CNN or russian TV, for instance).

    I really appreciate the way BBC approached this story.

  • Comment number 40.

    For us, sitting in front of TV sets, it often seems very easy to give an opinion on everything what happens in the world. You switch on TV and there is a conflict, for example, between Georgia and South Ossetia. At this stage, a lot of people cannot say anything even about the geographical location of two places. So, as long as these places are not your or my holiday destination, we generally cannot care less about the conflict. There are so many wars nowadays.

    Some people, however, keep the news channel on and it tells them that Georgia, in this case, is an ex-Soviet republic which carries out reforms in order to join the EU and NATO. This, in turn, may confront Russian interests. At this point, many of us have already drawn final conclusions and there is no need to analyse any further. Russia is nothing more than a non-democratic state, bully. KGB, red stars and communism are among those associations with Russia, on which many Europeans and US citizens were brought up from childhood even after the collapse of the USSR. Opposite associations are much closer to many Russians: double standards (Kosovo), NATO expansion and economic interests of the Western countries leading to the conflicts. To find facts which support one of these two opinions one should not go very far. Just press the right button on TV.

    Tragedy of people who lived side to side for centuries is not on agenda. The new generation of this conflict will remember only bombs falling down. They never knew values which if not fully united their grandparents, but at least saved them from wars between each other.

    Russian 1tv Channel a few days ago showed a 30 min documentary movie from Tshinvali called “???? ????????” (The wounds of Tshinval) made by their own reporter in the town. You can find it online ([Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator])
    Everyone finds its own truth in any war. I agree with it. Unfortunately, I have not seen such truth shown on the BBC. I think people from that town also deserve to be heard not only in Russia.

    As a Russian from Kazakhstan, who has been living several years in England, I think that many serious conflicts between countries result from the system of economic and political relationships we developed. However, I will never be able to justify the order by the Georgian president Saakashvili to start the war on the basis of this argument. TV, unfortunately, can easily do it.

  • Comment number 41.

    With all the respect, but mr. Alistair Burnett should wake up and spot living the dream. Do you, with a clear continence can say that there is a fer and objective reporting from companies such as BBC or CNN??????
    Your company is a part of a propaganda machine that "dances as the government plays".Your record of informing for daily political needs of your government is very long....and I wouldn't take the time now to remind you of Bosnia, Serbia, Rwanda, Iraq .....What is you point witting comments like this, do you need to feel better about yourself or you just trying to justify somebody else?

  • Comment number 42.

    The BBC reported that Russia has admitted that the number killed by Georgian forces in the initial attack was not 1500 but less than 200. Has there been change to this figure? What is the source of the information and how did they arrive at this figure?


  • Comment number 43.

    #42 writes:
    The BBC reported that Russia has admitted that the number killed by Georgian forces in the initial attack was not 1500 but less than 200.

    Looks like just another example of dirty propaganda trick. Why BBC plays into that I do not know. On Wednesday, Aug. 20, russians/ossetians have simultaneously circulated two figures:
    (i) 133 = number of criminal cases they intend to file with the ICC in Hague.
    (ii) ~1,400+ = number of ossetians killed by georgians.
    The latter figure seems still fluid and not final and not independently verified, but it certainly is not a massive scale down from the original russian estimate of ~1,500. What is clear is that the final figure, whatever will it be, is not less than 133. It is also clear that given a limited judiciary resources it would not be wise for russians/ossetians to pursue every case against Saakashvili at the ICC in Hague - it is reasonable to select the "easiest to pursue" cases. Nevertheless, "western" media (BBC inclusive) reportied of the # of criminal cases opened by russians as a scaled down total number of fatalities in the conflict. This is, of course, a possible interpretation of the figures released on Wednesday. It is, however, definitely not the most reasonable one. Ans it is clearly an example where an interpretation delivers only a part of the news so as to bias the public's perception. Reminds me of USSR's media reporting on the "plight of homeless on the streets of NYC" and "corageous protests by Dr. Haider", etc., illustrating "total failure of the rotten capitalism".
    Hence, it looks as if "western media" plays one of those propaganda tricks. Why?

  • Comment number 44.

    WOW - as we liked to cynically joke in the USSR times "the revolution so long predicted by the bolshevicks has happened. And now - the discoteque."

    While I certainly can not claim credit here, I was one those anxiously urging for this information to get public (see more in my thread on separating facts from fiction).
    The UNOSAT finally makes public satellite surveys of the aftermath of Georgian assault on Tskhinvali and ossetian villages. Here is the punchline
    "An estimated total of 438 buildings within the mapped extent of Tskhinvali have been classified either as destroyed or severely damaged. An important preliminary finding of this satellite damage analysis is the observed heavy concentration of building damages within clearly defined residential areas. "
    I encourage everybody thursty for an unbiased data free of propaganda-driven media interpretations to check the UNOSAT website.

  • Comment number 45.

    The 'fog' of war has been quite apparent in the BBC coverage as it has been in all of the World's news media.

    Now that things appear to have calmed down a bit is it not time to address some of the issues about the nature of power in the West and in the USA, in particular, and examine the results, or lack them, that has resulted from the actions of all parties concerned.

    I feel that an examination of the relative impotence of the West is really quite important. Before Georgia the West had the impression that it was in the ascendant and could throw its weight around on the borders and even within the former Soviet Union. In summary now we have blustered and been ignored as we did nothing.

    1. Why did we pick this fight when we were not prepared to do anything?

    2. Why was Mikheil Saakashvili encouraged to wage war on a region of his own country?

    3. Did Mikheil Saakashvili intend to be defeated by the Russians?

    4. Was anybody in Washington encouraging Mikheil Saakashvili in his actions?

    and most importantly:

    5. What is the result on global stability of showing that the USA can be ignored and has ceased to be a Super Power?

    In summary: where is the analysis and investigative reporting?

    My opinion is that the Ossetians [and Georgians] matter - the people - not borders or international borders. This area, very much like Yugoslavia has had its disputes kept under control by Russia for several hundred years and stirring them up is highly unwise.

    I recall the encouragement given by elements in the USA to the right wing media in Croatia at the fall of Tito and I am deeply ashamed that the USA and the World has leant nothing since. I am deeply fearful of the effects of the warmongering right wing think tanks that circle around the government in the USA. I think we should also ask journalistic question about these institutions yet again.

    I am however less fearful of the American warmongers now because of the dire situation in the the US economy and the serial failures of military action. Which in itself is deeply troubling for World stability.

  • Comment number 46.

    How did the Russian army end up in Poti if they never "invaded", Alastair Burnett? On the BBC's magic carpet ride?

    I suppose the next thing the BBC is going to tell me is that the Ossetians didn't loot anything, they just liberated stuff from the bourgeois capitalist elite!

    Meanwhile there's no question whether the US "invaded" Iraq or whether the US "military operation" there was rather "a case of humanitarian intervention"; THAT was an unambigious "invasion" in the BBC's dictionary:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7536809.stm

    We've got two invasions here, ladies and gentlemen, one American and one Russian. If the BBC can call the first then in its august neutrality it can call the second. The Russian claims of "genocide" that would justify a "military operation" have been discredited, and the BBC should stop pretending otherwise.

    Why is that for an example of Russian media manipulation, like how Russian TV presented the FOX clip, I have go to the NY Times?
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/world/europe/22moscow.html

    Thank God reporters like the Guardian's Luke Harding are actually there and reporting what is happening instead of just suggesting that the Russians should be given the benefit of the doubt about what is happened or has happened in areas they are denying to reporters.

    Burnett then links to a piece that dubs Saakashvili a "fool". This "fool" is President of what the World Bank called the world's "top economic reformer" last year. This "fool" brought Georgia up from 122nd to 18th — ahead of Germany — in the World Bank's "Doing Business" survey. This "fool" presided over an economy that grew 12.4% in 2007. And, finally, the government of this "fool" was praised just last month by World bank country director for Georgia, Roy Southworth, for promoting growth, reducing poverty and fighting corruption.

  • Comment number 47.

    Egor_NY, how are you going to interpret that data when there is no explanation of which neighbourhoods are Georgian and which are Ossetian? Reporters on the ground who are actually familiar with which were which said fire damage was noticeable in GEORGIAN residential areas:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/12/AR2008081202480.html

    I might add that there are more than 7000 buildings in Tskhinvali.

    See also the UNOSAT active fire locations. Fires were detected on August 12 and 13 in villages around Tskhinvali. Given that there are Georgian villages around Tskhinvali, what does that tell you?

  • Comment number 48.

    Egor_NY, the Russians also charged Germans with committing the Katyn Forest massacre of German officers. According to your logic, that means the Germans did it and not the Russians, right?

  • Comment number 49.

    to bdell555
    1. Eurocommissioner on human rights has just visited Tskhinvali and talked to witnesses of that destruction documented in the UNOSAT satelllite surveys. He could certainly answer as to who and how have caused it and which civilian population have been attacked - I hope BBC or smbd else asks. I happened to have seen/read/heard many different accounts of those events from people who would not engage in propaganda (acclaimed Gergiev is one).
    2. This has nothing to do with things like soviet propaganda charges concerning NKVD execution of polish (not german) officers and men near the village of Katyn. Those charges were made by soviet officials (state-appointed prosecutors, NKVD and communist party officials), not by ordinary people witnessing the events.

  • Comment number 50.

    Russia, Georga, and Middle East continue in the news, and little said of US-Gov and Special Forces involvement in these areas destabilizing this region.
    The BBC news seems to dance around these important issues. Their last news item concerning Iran Cleric endorsing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term as President, eliciting the false charge of Ahmadinejad "wanting Israel destroyed", does not help to end proven propaganda and lies.
    As an American that no longer believes a single statement of the US-Gov and US-Media, it is becoming more difficult every day to find agencies that do not put out pure lies and fabrications.
    Straighten up BBC, AIPAC and the Zionist regime are losing ground fast in the world of spoken truths.

  • Comment number 51.

    Re:#45

    It is often said that "war" rekindles lost political causes.

    Given that the US is about to vote for a new president it would seem that, at the very least, the BBC would probe deeper into the Washington political circuits to find out exactly who is doing what and why.

    Has Russia seen something in Obama that worries them deeply, profoundly enough to want to guarantee he will lose the election?

    Has the Russian command of oil really shaken and hurt the US so deeply that it has not been able think straight?

    Instead of the BBC struggling to find the truth of the Ossetian crisis are the answers to be found away from this area in the greater political and economic picture?

  • Comment number 52.

    #51 In_for_me

    I agree that the questions that you ask are quite pertinent.

    I do not think Obama worries Russia very much as despite the Democrats overwhelming advantage (i.e. 8 years of Bush) some of Obama's recent statements - such as responses about 'being above his pay grade' indicate that even he thinks he is a looser.

    I think the oil question is critical, after all there was, and is, considerable talk about the need to invade Iraq to get at the control of Iraq's oil. Internal US politics is dependent on the continuing over use of oil. (As is evidenced by both Obama and McCain supporting offshore exploration that even Bush did not support.)

    The fact is that Mikheil Saakashvili did something that was basically daft in 'invading' his own territory. What on earth did he think he would gain? How on earth did he make to calculation that said he would win? What part did outside 'advisers' play in this calculation?

  • Comment number 53.

    Hi guys. I think u'll all agree Burnett's post is very well balanced. I havnt yet read these new posts but no doubt u'll be hearing more from me!

  • Comment number 54.

    I appreciate that it's difficult to cover, but in the fora, the questions have been framed as "what do we think of Russia's intervention?"

    There has been no question of "what do we think of Georgia's intervention?".

    Of course, many contributors have addressed that side anyway, but it would have brought a different (more objective?) dimension to the debate.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi. Read them now, and from the earlier jon william's page. It astounds me how bloggers like bdel5 can get away with saying what he does. Clearly there r alot of well educated posters here and he is NOT one of them!

  • Comment number 56.

    I have found the bias against Russia in the British media, including the BBC, to be of Orwellian proportions. I have never seen such a perfect display of the media falling into line when a whip is cracked by the USA. Newscast after newscast failed to even mention the fact that Georgia initiated the end conflict by launching an attack on South Ossetian civilians and peacekeepers. I have even noticed pro-Russian comments being removed from the Have Your Say sections for no reason - including the 'readers most recommended' one. Quite frankly I am appalled and rather worried for the future. Is this 1984 after all?

  • Comment number 57.

    Someone has to tell US the truth or at least point up in the questions that matter. In the US we cannot depend on our news sources. All they want to do is play Bush sound bites of him calling the Russians "bullies." When we know who the major bully is in the world: Iraq is no joke.

    I depend on the BBC because the UK has a more international perspective. You are used to human differences and your news staff show the multiculturalism that you never find on TV in the States. Your interviews/newspeople pursue the self-righteous Neocons that come on BBC so that their answers don't appear to be from God's mouth to our ears.

    Yes Russia has its faults, but it does not want to be encircled by its "enemies" friendly or not. I read this in an American history book, believe it or not.

  • Comment number 58.

    What are these war-mongering presidents thinking when they declare war? Don't they see what happens to peoples' lives and property. Schacahvli must be insane. What good is an insane ally. He may convince himself to attack you.

    He is out of control. Couldn't he see that both the US and NATO were bogged down. Or didn't he care. Were they suppose to leave Afghanistan and Iraq and come fight the Russians for his folly?

    What about Europe? Was it suppose to be destroyed again as it was in WWI and WWII? Who would rescue Europe, the US? It is time to reevaluate friends and take weapons from irresponsible allies who want to march as though its 45,000 man army were the Werhmount. Hitler was nuts too.

  • Comment number 59.

    I don't at all think that BBC has been pro-Georgian, in fact there has been a lot going on and still is which would support Georgia but much of it has not been reported. Reading these comments there are a lot of people who just make things up but do make it sound very believable: "what about the actual UN agreement that was in place which did not allow Georgians to enter Ossetia?" - Any proof of such agreements? Many would and still do criticize Georgia for killing more then 2000 civilians in SO, when Human Rights Watch later published a report on how those casualties were exaggerated.

    Comments like:
    'If Russia has invaded Georgia, how come Georgia's government is still in place, a peace agreement signed, troop withdrawals underway'

    Do you really think that one of the main reasons for such intervention was not to overthrow the government? Russia did invade Georgia and overthrowing the government was one of its main priorities but that was not achieved because of the criticism Russia got from the West and also the support that the president got from people. Had Russia just wanted to ensure the further military action was prevented by destroying Georgian army, they would not start burning beautiful Georgian forests and would not attempt to destroy Georgian economy, would not mine whole of Georgia so that the trains carrying fuel from Azerbaijan explode and start burning (like we witnessed yesterday), Russian soldiers would not rob everything they could get hold of. All this to change the public opinion and overthrow the government - they even brought a man called Igor Giorgadze (who is pro Russian, but Georgian), who would replace Saakashvili, had their attempt been successful. They have done that in the past when Gamsakhurdia (who struggled for Georgia's independence) was mysteriously killed and in his place was put Shevardnadze who was the Foreign Minister of USSR.

    There had been many attempts in the past to overthrow Saakashvili's pro-western government - mysterious blow up of the gas pipeline that was carrying gas to Georgia - later blamed on Georgia by Russia, which is pathetic - again trying to turn people against the president in cold winter. Last year, an attempt to overthrow the government by funding NGOs, who began massive propaganda against the government and turned people against it. And many, many more examples.

    As these failed, closer ties with breakaway regions were established, the railway line (which Georgia warned was getting constructed for the invasion), was complete at the beginning of this august, Russian planes were admittedly flying over Georgia (all to see what the reaction of the west would be), tanks were mobilised around Abkhazia and South Ossetia - does anyone really think that it would be so quick to get so much artillery inside Georgia in a matter of few hours, had they not already been mobilised and had some already not being inside the Georgian territory?

    It is interesting to see how the tensions got worse since NATO denied Georgia MAP but would review it again in December and what's happening leading up to December? A major conflict starts in Georgia which would certainly make it less likely that Georgia will join. Does anyone really think that Georgia wanted this conflict and Saakashvili is such lunatic (as Russians call him), with Hitler like manners that he suddenly wanted to demonstrate his country's military power and retake the control of SO, just before the likelihood of getting MAP in December was so great? You must be pathetic to think that!

    BBC has not gone deep enough, i don't think, and hasn't given enough background to the conflict. Those who speak of the independence of Abkhazia and SO, do you know what happened in the 1990s? Do you know about those 500,000 georgians (who were the majority - about 80% in both regions) who were driven out of Georgia with Russian help? Those two regions will never be independent! Since when did Russia start to have such high moral values to be trying to help those in "need", those who were apparently under attack? Since those citizens were given Russian passports? Why were they given Russian passports in the first place? Why, if not for Russia's ill intentions in the region...? Those regions have now been declared independent by Russia but that only means their integration into Russia, you will see! One cannot just look at the events that took place on the 8th of August (and even then the information that came out is blurred and not at all accurate, probably from neither side..), one has to look at the greater picture and look at the events leading up to what has happened and then make judgements. Is it more likely that Russia would want to stir up the conflict in Georgia when its Nato membership was so close, or is it more likely that Georgia would start a military action that had a great potential of making the conflict a lot worse, especially when Russia had previously threatened Georgia of a counter-attack had Georgia used any military force.. Think logically and don’t fall into the Russian trap!

  • Comment number 60.

    #52.

    I feel that the Russians would view Obama, were he to win which seems increasingly unlikely, as unpredictable. However the deal with Poland illustrates that the US is not about to hand in its "crown" without a fight and to leverage Russia as far away from "total oil" power as it can.

    I find this reasoning strange. If the US were to embrace Russia's new commerce would that not strengthen it's own position, opening new areas of production in direct competition with China? In the meantime China looks seductively towards Africa for the same reasons.

    With Russia in NATO would that not strengthen the hand of the EU? And if the US do not like Russia in NATO then they will become increasingly isolated and poorer.

    The globe is changing very fast and that is why I believe that what happened in South Ossetia was not driven solely or even chiefly by Russia.

  • Comment number 61.

    I find it amazing that we are only a few years down the line from when the BBC went to the US Journo convention and the BBC headguy called the US media biased and single minded and which is a disgrace to journalism, and here we are saying the same thing about the BBC! shame shame shame! guess we should all subscribe to Al Jazeera, the only media group who have nearly been bombed by the US for reporting exactly what they see!

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm not too familiar with the difference between the situation in Georgia/South Ossetia and China/Tibet...but it just seems like a contradiction somewhat. The West is condeming Russia for declaring South Ossetia as a nation-state, yet criticising China for not allowing Tibet to be a free state. Hmmm...it just seems dubious...

  • Comment number 63.

    #60 pongabit

    The Oil Imperative - 2008 version

    I was thinking about the US internal oil situation and its impact on foreign policy.

    The Russian situation is as a huge net exporter of oil and gas (and indeed potentially the commercial controller of some North African national oil and gas exports too.)

    The USA is in a very weak position as it is politically unable to cut back its import requirements whereas Russia could choose to cut back its exports and by so doing push the price up and put huge pressure on the USA.

    It is vital for the USA to improve its position and fortuitously by doing so (i.e. cutting its use of oil) it can help the global warming situation. As I have written elsewhere the USA is no longer a 'super power' it is just like the rest of us.

    The USA has a huge need for foreign loans to finance its gigantic budget deficit and I do wonder how long it will be able to finance its debt sales without raising interest rates. It is economically in one hell of a mess - even without the credit crunch - but fortunately it does most of its trade internally and so is insulated, whereas those countries like the UK who live by their exports are not so fortunate.

    It is still the case that when the USA sneezes we in the UK catch a cold. (At times like these the protection of a large home market (using the same currency) would be a very good thing, but unfortunately we has stubbornly, or stupidly, kept out of the Euro (so far) so all our sales are dependent on a floating currency, which in these times can destroy any profit on trade overnight.

    Most things come down to money, or at least have some large money element. Would WW2 have happened if the reparations demanded after WWI had not been so crippling for the German economy?

    My feeling about South Ossetia is that the situation is the result of a very long standing affinity with the rest of Ossetia or Alania - I too do not believe that Russia desired to annex South Ossetia but has been driven to do so by the daft actions of the Georgians - who did so on the encouragement of friends in the USA - as a strategy to ensure the election of McCain perhaps?

    Abkhazia is a different kettle of fish: I feel that they opportunistically joined in as a way of getting away from Georgian control.

  • Comment number 64.

    2 FactsFacts:
    "what about the actual UN agreement that was in place which did not allow Georgians to enter Ossetia?" - Any proof of such agreements?

    Well, you are welcome to consult Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia S/2008/480. Here, for example, is a passage on the legality of Georgian drone overflights:

    "16. After the Mission’s fact-finding team investigated the first downing of a UAV,
    on 18 March, UNOMIG informed the Georgian Ministry of Defence of its position
    that such flights constituted a violation of the ceasefire and separation-of-forces
    regime. Indeed, a military reconnaissance mission should be considered a military
    action and therefore contravenes paragraph 1 of the Moscow Agreement, which stipulates that “the parties shall scrupulously observe the ceasefire on land, at sea and in the air and shall refrain from any military action against each other”."

    You might also be enlightened by reading UN Security Council report #3 of July 18, 2008. Here is an excerpt:
    "... On 8 July Russia circulated a draft resolution on the explosions to members of the Council. Among the key points were:

    a demand for the parties to finalise and sign a document on non-use of violence;

    a request for the Georgian side to take steps to ensure that the situation in the Kodori Valley is brought in line with the 1994 Moscow Agreement and that no unauthorised troops are in that area; and

    a request for the parties, particularly Tbilisi, to refrain from provocative acts, not allow unauthorised military activities in the security zone and resume regular consultations. "

  • Comment number 65.

    The rights and the wrongs! and by them the whole world is torn - a quote from somewhere I forget who. All it could possibly mean is that everybody is right, and nobody is wrong. BBC would be smart not to be the arbiter of rights and wrongs of this world. But it often is - not in its blogs where it is open to outside comments - but to those English-speaking 'ears' who can detect its subtle British undertones! It would be futile in the 21st century to still pretend that the professionalism of news broadcasts entails the ideals of detachment, disinterest and impartiality. The fact is, the world has long been politicized: cultures, speech, free thoughts have been politicised; existence itself has been politicized; and the BBC and its ilk are right in the thick of it! But it's not too late. It's high time something so important as the BBC stepped back and take a new look at the world - not by another extension of the western perspective, not by the opposite either, but something new, something bold enough to accommodate even its opposites, the wrongs of the world, from the stomach but not just from the head! Do that before a new power shift gets chance to break up the world again. Don't let the world run out of money, hence the means to do good before it runs out of good intentions.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    Well i also think that some people on this site r paid government informers, and we should watch out for them!

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    Again the freedom of the press has proven to be a phallacy. The BBC has pushed all reports of the Russian appeals to the UN for action against Georgia into an obscure radio programme, until Russia finally acted on its own. Then the propaganda machine that is the BBC springs into action.
    Many of the inhabitants of South Ossetia hold Russian citizenship, and many more have relatives who are Russian citizens. Russias reaction to Georgian atrocities has been a measured response. They could easily have conquered the whole of Georgia and ousted the government. They chose not to, just as the UK did not 'Nuke' Argentina over the Falklands, when UK subjects were under foreign military threat.

    The real story here, which the bias of the Western Media does not want to discuss, is the posturing of a failing United States and an up and coming new world order.
    Before the collapse of the 'sub-prime' market, it was estimated that China would overtake the USA to become the Worlds richest country by 2020. Events within the US economy, which is going into recession, are not mirrored in the rest of the world. China, Russia and Brazil are still growing.
    South America saw this coming, hence the actions of Venezuela and others in severing most ties with an America which forced unfair trading upon them for decades. Instead, these countries built links with the East, and are thriving because of it. Over the next 50 years, the US will slip to 4th or 5th largest economy in the world, and will become impotent.
    Hence, invading Afghanistan and Iraq, trying to set up a 'missile shield' in the former Eastern Bloc, and offering NATO membership to any tinpot country. I don't think I'd sleep any better in my bed at night for knowing that Georgia was now a NATO member, with the advantages of its 100 tanks!
    The American missile shield is an echo of the Cuban Missile Crisis, only this time the US is not as strong. How can this be a 'War on Terror' initiative? It is simply a threat to Russia, for whom Europe depends heavily for fuel. Milliband is as impotent, knowing Europe can't do a thing to Russia. A simple veto on the Security Council prevents any UN action, and any trade sanctions would result in power blackouts across Western Europe (for those of you under 35 - in the 1970s due to OPEC and UK strikes, all domestic electricity was switched off in the evenings; no lights, no cooking and no telly).
    Why when the licence fee payer has to pay for BBC News24 (instead of Ashes cricket, quality drama or decent entertainment) is the news coverage of the big picture so poor?

  • Comment number 70.

    As South Ossetia held a second, independently monitored, referendum on independence from Georgia which attracted a 99% "yes" from the nineteen in twenty people who voted, I wonder how the UN can ignore this piece of evidence as if it doesn't matter.

    Is this really the same UN that was so keen to have a democratic election in Zimbabwe or is it just another body that twitches according to whose elbow is digging in its ribs?

  • Comment number 71.

    I am glad to see that you guys (the public) are still at it. I agree that the US is on a downward trend, but i just hope that China doesnt take thier place, given thier human rights abuses in Tibet and all!

  • Comment number 72.

    Would like to see Mr.Saakashvili in international court explaining his military actions in S.Ossetia!

  • Comment number 73.


    As THE ECONOMIST recently corrected noted, Russia remains surprisingly sensitive to its international image despite its show of militarism and renewed isolationism. Given this, it's hard to take seriously the claim that Moscow is indifferent to the prospect of a new Cold War. It's necessary now to lead a global effort to curtail Moscow's access to international organizations that are desirable to it, at the same time making it clear that it is both the West's sincere desire, and in Russia's practical interest, for a new Cold War to be averted. – N.J. Slabbert

  • Comment number 74.

    Can BBC hope that they approached the coverage of the conflict from an informed perspective and have done their audiences a service?

    I would not think so, only if the audience did not have any other information sources. From my experience, Euro news had a faster response and Aljazeera was ahead of them both and less biased.

  • Comment number 75.

    I must agree with 'realist_number_ten', I regularly check out the Al-Jazeera website for a more informed and balanced view of events in the Middle East. It is because of their decent reporting that the US military keep bombing them and banned them from Iraq - more Western freedom of the press!

  • Comment number 76.

    In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus. My brother then an American Marine was sent to evacuate American citizens. History shows each great nation doing this. I remember the saying "Its an Englishman right to live anywhere he so pleases" or something to that effect. So when the no fly zone was erected in Iraq to contain Saddam, Turkey still was allowed to bomb Kurdish rebels. All I see is confusion, double speak , and this new world disorder. It is alright for one but not another? That is why I don't believe in the UN. United? That's a laugh.
    When Muslim nations support the bomb strappers and make them heros, where is the UN resolution that does anything? When the Russians went into a theater to try and rescue its innocent people from terrorists. While not as polished as the SAS, or Mossad. Those with bombs strapped to themselves were shot. The reality was they were dead the moment they donned the explosive vests. They stepped outside civilization.
    So now another mess like Kosovo, which will form a Greater Albania. So how is this different, I truely fail to see how one can complain. We all sell weapons, we all spy, we all cut deals in the name of humanity.
    Now Georgia lighting another powder keg with all the same players. National interest of all involved, just another mess.

  • Comment number 77.

    Ohh I forgot one item in 1974 when Turkey invaded Cyprus, it was a member of Nato. Attacking a island predominatly Greek, at that time also a member of Nato. The Greeks later withdrew, and have since rejoined. So even in Nato, National interests first.

  • Comment number 78.

    'American Grizzly', I find 90% of your two comments to be both accurate and insightful. As with many Europeans, I find that many Americans seem to be very well informed on US issues, but rather ignorant of matters outside their own country; so it is wonderful to see that generlisation and stereotype firmly put in its place by an informed and well written piece about the World by an American.
    However, there are one or two small points I would like to address, where I feel thare is some inaccuracy.
    It is only every British persons right to live where-ever we like within the Commonwealth (although, personally I still like to use the phrase 'Empire' - it provokes such lovely language from others:) ).
    On a more serious note, the Kurdish terrorist atrocities against Turkey pre-dated the no-fly zone over Iraq, and continue today. Unfortunately, the US government has allowed the Kurds of North Iraq to continue their terrorist activities, because their part of Iraq is the only stable part of the country. This is not because the Kurds like America, or want a pro-Western Democracy, it is because they want a new Kurdistan (the old one was an Islamic Extremist State, and womaen were particularly badly treated. In the Kurdish East of Turkey, because Honour killings have been outlawed by the Islamic Turkish government, women are still killed by family members, who then claim the women committed suicide. How many Americans commit suicide by beating themselves to death with bats and machetes each year?).
    Despite the war on terror, the US allows Kurdish terrorist activities to go on, including training, recruiting and equiping. This is because the authorities need stability (not because the USA condones or supports these activities) and as such is restricted; the alternative would result in tipping the balance towards all out civil war in Iraq.
    Lastly, Greece realistically has no more legitimite claim to Cyprus than Turkey. It is such a shame that this beautiful island has become a focal point of politically and religiously founded warring by interfering outside interests (especially the UK). Even worse is the behaviour of many British troops who feel that the Cypriots, whether Greek or Turkish, are less than human, far too frequently commiting acts such as rape and murder. They shame the UK.

  • Comment number 79.

    A breakup of Georgia can start a political debate around the world as after Kosovo, this matter has taken in the attention of both good and bad people of the world.
    If Ossetia breaks out, imagine the situation in parts of Asia, some island nations which are ruled by two countries and not to forget Africa.
    UNO has to be cautious in these situations as we saw USSR and Yuguslovia break.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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