Talk of the Nation: International Edition

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The stories seem very different: War in Georgia, Pakistan's president resigns, and Iran launches a dummy satellite into orbit. But, beyond the nuts and bolts of the news there is a common thread — of U.S. power, and influence, and super power politics on a global scale. And the way it all comes together will have repercussions for the U.S. for many years. How do we make sense of the connections, and what it means in a broader sense? We call in Ted Koppel, our global news buddy, and Strobe Talbott, the former Deputy Secretary of State. What questions do you have about the hows and whys of Pakistan, Iran, Georgia, and Russia?

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Gerogia's problems don't really qualify as an "ethnic cleansing." Would it be fair to characterize it as an ethnic "tidying up" or an "ethnic light dusting?"

Sent by Mo | 2:27 PM | 8-18-2008

Under these circumstances, why, oh why does Europe want Barak Obama for U.S.A.'s president? Maybe he could learn foreign policy on the job; I expect that he'll do as well as President Jimmy Carter.

Sent by Mike | 2:30 PM | 8-18-2008

ted koppel. f---ing awesome. the other guy is pretty good too.

Sent by Bill | 2:31 PM | 8-18-2008

Georgia, a tiny country of 4.5 million, less people than South Florida, cannot possibly threaten its giant Russian neighbor. According to Wikipedia, South Ossetia now has roughly 75,000 people, after ethnic cleansing, by flight, of 250,000 ethnic Georgians, who fled from past violence. These internal conflicts have been deliberately kept alive with Russian aid and weapons, without which they could not survive. Russia is, and has been all along, an instigator of the conflict. For Russia to send so-called "peacekeepers" into a conflict kept alive by Russian arms is the height of cynicism.

Parallels have been drawn between Kosovo and Georgia, regions with different histories. However, there is a closer, much more disturbing parallel, right next door to Georgia.

How are Georgia's attempts to safeguard its territorial integrity in South Ossetia and Abkhazia any different, in principle, from Russian efforts to keep Chechnya, Georgia's next door Sunni Muslim neighbor, from seceding from Russia? Russia fought two bloody wars with Chechnya, committed atrocities that left Russia with a severe terrorist problem, and bombed Grozny, its capital city, with a ferocity described in Wikipedia's "First Chechen War" as some the worst bombing of Europe since Dresden, in order to keep Chechnya part of Russia.
Russia's explanations for its current actions are disingenuous, at best.

And the suppression of Russia's domestic opposition and independent press, prior to the recent elections is hardly reassuring.

Sent by Armondavid | 3:30 PM | 8-18-2008

Neal,

You just said that "We" still don't know who fired the first shot or what started this show-down. I then find it really irresponsible that your guests Ted Koppel and Strobe Talbott are having this discussion. If after over a week U.S. Media outlets are incapable of flying reporters overseas to get the FACTS of the situation, why are they being allowed on TONT to pyschoanalyze the situation.

Furthermore, both the President, Secretary of state, the BBC, and Europe have admitted that Georgia fired the FIRST shot. They (correctly)blame Russia only for excessive use of force in DEFENDING the people of South Ossetia. Privately, the president of Georgia was given a direct order by President Bush NOT to attack South Ossetia. Georgia still went ahead and recklessly attacked assuming that they U.S. will come to their aid. They underestimated the response from Russia.

We are again falling for propaganda from the same lazy american journalism that lead us to the Iraq war. The people of South Ossetia were also injured and killed in trying to demand rights to freedom from what they consider an oppressive government in Georgia.

Barack Obama has been discussing the lack of U.S. focus on this region for months now without much U.S. media investigation (His flag pin was obviously more important to the media). Now that the worse has happened, the U.S. media still is incapable of doing it's job in sticking to the truth.

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"Under these circumstances, why, oh why does Europe want Barak Obama for U.S.A.'s president?"
-sent by Mike.

To answer your question Mike, just because McCain has experience in foreign policy does not mean he has the CORRECT view of policy.
Vice President Dick Cheney has over 40years "experience" in foreign policy and thanks to him and other experienced Republicans the have made the worst decisions since the beginning of our democracy.

Europle trusts Barack Obama because he has the CORRECT view of geopolitics. He understands the complexity of the situation has shades of gray instead of good vs. evil.
John McCain and all the "experienced" old guard have brought us all these problems. They have the same mindset of Putin's generation and unable to step out of the same old tried and failed U.S. foreign policy.

The #1 reason to vote AGAINST McCain is due to his old guard "experience". His generation needs to retire. That is why the vast majority of U.S. Military men and women serving in Iraq have voted for and sent money to Senator Obama.

Sent by Sarah | 3:51 PM | 8-18-2008

To the Russian Federation's masquerade as peacekeepers, while trampling on a tiny nation fighting to prevent its own dismemberment, in a conflict deliberately engineered by the local bully;
One answer alone is sufficient:

WE REMEMBER CHECHNYA! And the atrocities you committed there; still another small country yearning for freedom, Georgia's overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim next door neighbor. That nagging, persistent, terrorism problem you still have, did not originate in a vacuum. No one mentions Chechnya any more. Some of us have not forgotten.

Sent by armondavid | 8:04 PM | 8-18-2008

OMG! It turns out we are not only impotent; we are insignificant! Our military has been weakened to the point that we are unable to protect one of our coalition of the willing partners. We have lost any moral high ground. It is embarrassing to hear Bush chiding the Ruskies for invading a sovereign nation. It is humiliating to have been the most powerful nation in the world not that long ago and now be powerless to keep our noses from being rubbed in this mess we have helped to create.
I don't like how it feels to be a part of a punk nation. Wonder how the present and former administration hawks feel now. Not so hawky is my guess. The Russian nationalists are doing a TD celebration in the in zone and there is no referee to panelize them for their excess. In your face America!
Well, as a nation, we deserve it. Every other person (meaning one in two) in the US needs to accept responsibility for this incapacitation. Ideology mixed with arrogance and ignorance has proven to be a very dangerous cocktail. You can think of it as a Molotov cocktail.

Sent by Craig Miller | 9:18 PM | 8-18-2008