Paul Rimple:: Signifying mud

One year after the Russia-Georgia war and the scum is still floating on the top. In some cases, it is still rising.
The equation was simple. If Bush’s foreign policy was bad, then Saakashvili was bad. Therefore, his enemy Putin must be good. The man that leveled Grozny during his dirty war with Chechnya had suddenly become a victim of the Cheney doctrine. Blah blah blah.

I have friends in Armenia and Abkhazia that really believe the US masterminded the war, based on Russia’s successful propaganda machine and the logic that the US wouldn’t have armed and trained Georgia otherwise. The US can be blamed for lots of things but not for instigating or taking part in last August’s war. The US had repeatedly told Saakashvili to mellow out on the war drum stuff. Renewed conflict would only crush Bush’s big plan to get Georgia into NATO, which it ultimately did.

People also believe that Georgian troops were doped to kill civilians, as that is what the headlines said. The Moscow Bureau for Human Rights (MBHR) interviewed witnesses who claimed that captured Georgian troops had needle marks in their arms. Think about it. Georgian commanders handing out fixes of heroin to their men to help them run over babies in tanks and shoot grandmothers. The logic is compelling.

And as I have mentioned before, people are still stuck on the number of 2000 civilian deaths in Tskhinvali, a number that was accepted before the smoke cleared in the de facto South Ossetian capital, only two days after the August 8th attack. Later, the number fluctuated between 1400-2100, depending on who was reporting. Numbers are good for news. Even Reuters fell for it. It was too late when head of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s investigative committee, Alexander Bastyrkinet, came out with the official civilian death toll of 162 on Christmas 2008. Yet the number is enough for South Ossetia and Russia to claim “genocide” with a straight face, while marauders amped up on the conviction of 2000 deaths systematically destroyed Georgian villages, by flame and bulldozer, displacing tens of thousands people from their homes.

And today, because the Ukraine isn’t playing ball on Russia’s terms, the country has become implicated in the South Ossetia war. Mud flinging is free and easy when the state controls the media and Russia well knows that mud sticks, if you throw enough of it, often enough.

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1 comment:

paul rimple said...

Hi Henning,

Looking back at your images from August last year is haunting. Strange I didn't hear about your incident.

One war photographer, Joao Silva, said the war had been about the most dangerous he had been in. There was no front line and you never knew when some irregulars would pop out of nowhere and start firing, like they did to you, or in my case, when some bombs fell from the sky and landed meters away.

You know, you come out of such an experience and wonder what sense is there in any of this? War? What the fuck for? You see such extremes of human nature - from the most unselfish acts of kindness to the most base acts of evil. On one hand the value of human life can amount to absolutely nothing, while on the other you never imagined you could ever value it more.