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The Russians are coming

August 12, 2008

Re "U.S. asks: How far will Russia go?," Aug. 11

Here we go again. The Russians are coming, blasting their way south through South Ossetia. According to Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili "must go" because he has become "an obstacle." "Regime change," Churkin says, is an "American expression." Why then doesn't the Russian government urge the residents of South Ossetia to undertake a nonviolent, mass effort to remove Saakashvili from office and elect a responsible leader?

Defining legal terms with particularity has never been high on the list of Russian attributes. To whom is Saakashvili an "obstacle"? What is the legal requirement for becoming one, and what is the penalty?

Russia's history suggests that people who become "obstacles" in that country can only be reformed by death. During the last century alone, Russian governments overtly murdered a great number of their citizens. Now, Russia apparently intends to regain its status as a Cold War adversary and pay for it by stealing crude oil from every leader who presents an "obstacle" to this end. A few more thousand, hundred thousand or million deaths is worth the goal.

Kurt E. Matthews

Lomita

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The disgraceful attack on the sovereign state of Georgia must be immediately decried by the world community. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's argument that Russia has the right to protect Russians anywhere, even outside Russian borders, is utter nonsense and a recipe for chaos throughout the world.

Unfortunately, this Russian action has some antecedents in America's own foreign policy. Beyond President Bush's thuggery in the illegal invasion of Iraq, there was President Clinton's failure to insist that all of Bosnia-Herzegovina be united under a single government. Instead, he kowtowed to Serb fascists and acquiesced to a Serbian state within a state, an act of compromise that set the example for Georgian citizens of Russian descent to demand separate republics in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Either the United States and Russia must respect international law, or we must resign ourselves to a world in which military might makes right.

Ronald O. Richards

Los Angeles

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Re "Fighting in Caucasus intensifies," Aug. 9

The conflict between Georgia and Russia is potentially explosive but not without its irony. The Georgian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that "invading the territory of a sovereign state and bombing its territory is unacceptable in the 21st century." This is the same Georgia that sent 2,000 troops to Iraq to support Bush's disastrous and dishonorable invasion of a sovereign state and the bombing of its territory.

Or wasn't 2003 part of the 21st century?

Allen E. Kahn

Playa del Rey

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