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August 15, 2008

The Bombs of Georgia
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:33 PM * 40 comments

Over at CNN, Glenn Beck is saying:

“This is for America. This is for NATO. This is for Bush.”

These were the phrases that the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvilli, told me were on Russian bombs falling before, during and after the numerous cease-fires that have come and gone since the Georgian-Russian conflict began.

I have a question for Mr. Beck: How does Mikheil Saakashvilli know this? Don’t the bombs blow up when they hit the ground, making the writing on them hard to read?
Comments on The Bombs of Georgia:
#1 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 09:06 PM:

Glory be! It's an October Surprise, come in August!

#2 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 09:20 PM:

Telepresence... er... something like that, yeah.

#3 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 09:32 PM:

Presumably there are a few duds upon which these Cyrillic philipics can still be made out.

The Russians are now muttering at the Poles for agreeing to host antimissile systems on the off chance that the Iranians have some reason why they would want to rocket Europe when they have so many nearer and more inviting targets.

#4 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Good god. Could he get any more agitprop for McCain?

#5 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 09:55 PM:

I interpret the Georgian President's comments to reflect his anger and frustration at NATO, US and Bush especially, since he was told repeatedly we were his friend and would stand up to Russia to keep his country democratic.

Now he's finding what a promise is worth when the tanks are rumbling through his streets.

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 10:09 PM:

This is the best article I've yet read on the whole Russian-Georgian contretemps. It's by Michael Dobbs, who was a reporter in Georgia in 1991 when it left the USSR.

On Beck, I'm still puzzled that a) CNN offers him a forum and b) that a service called "Headline News" offers a 1/2 hour rant show instead of the headlines it purports to be its purpose.

#7 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 10:46 PM:

Georgian President meet al-Sadr's dead father, the head of Hungary in 1954, etc. The former George Herbert Walker Bush encouraged to rebel against Saddam Hussein....

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 11:31 PM:

I've been feeling kind of down about myself lately for wasting hours and hours of my free time playing Galactic Civilization and Tropico.

I thought I'd beat it, but reading about jingoistic crap like this makes me want to hole up and indulge in escapist foolishness all weekend.

#9 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 11:33 PM:

Linkmeister@#6: On Beck, I'm still puzzled that a) CNN offers him a forum and b) that a service called "Headline News" offers a 1/2 hour rant show instead of the headlines it purports to be its purpose.

CNN and CNN Headline News are two different stations -- the former has regularly scheduled shows, while the latter is all-trainwrecks-all-the-time, cycling through the top news stories every half hour.

#10 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 12:19 AM:

Linkmeister, #6: agree with you about the Dobbs piece. But see also Paul Kennedy (The Rise and Fall of The Great Powers) in the Guardian. I find it striking that the US and Russian leaders are still acting like they're the only two powers in the world.

#11 ::: Marc Mielke ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 12:21 AM:

Beck is on Headline News. Headline News USED to be a half-hour headlines on a loop, which was AWESOME for people who need white noise while writing. Unfortunately, they put Glenn Beck and the Evil Conservative Woman on there, which breaks up the white noise and makes me want to fire a 12-gauge shotgun at my (landlord's) television.

#12 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 12:53 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ top: Don't the bombs blow up when they hit the ground, making the writing on them hard to read?

Adrian Smith @ 3: Presumably there are a few duds upon which these Cyrillic philipics can still be made out.

Yes, in multiple reports this is made explicit.

For example, in The Economist: Mr Saakashvili claimed some Russian unexploded bombs had been daubed with messages such as "This one is for NATO".

#13 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 02:08 AM:

Linkmeister #6 On Beck, I'm still puzzled that a) CNN offers him a forum and b) that a service called "Headline News" offers a 1/2 hour rant show instead of the headlines it purports to be its purpose.

The very few times I've watched Beck, his show has come across to me not as a 1/2-hour rant, but as a 1/2-hour ad hominem attack-fest.

#14 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 02:25 AM:

Americans do the bomb-signing thing too. There's a program where you can get your name placed on a bomb or other large munition used in Iraq, and you get a US flag that was flown on the same mission. Not sure what it costs or if it's just a scam to bilk jingoistic Americans, but I have seen a flag and a letter of authentication from whatever that program is. It's war profiteering of the same despicable sort that uses 9/11 bank silver for commemorative coins.

#15 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 02:48 AM:

Marc Mielke @ #11, Yeah, that's what I mean. If you were stuck in an auto shop waiting room or the equivalent it was a convenient service when it was just a 1/2 hour loop. I suppose CNN feels that very few people are in those locations at the hours when it puts Beck and Grace on.

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 02:54 AM:

Randolph @ #10, thanks for the tip. That is indeed a good commentary from Kennedy.

#17 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 02:57 AM:

I assumed at first reading of this that Saakashvili was being metaphorical, implying that Russia was attacking Georgia (a) as an ally of America, and (b) because America was too big to attack directly.

If the actual words are visible on unexploded bombs, then two possibilities follow: either the Russians are writing the same things over and over again on all their bombs, or else it's only the ones marked "this is for America" and such that are failing to explode. Whether this is because America is under divine protection, or simply because the bombs feel they've been wrongly addressed, remains open for debate.

#18 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 04:06 AM:

I don't trust either side's accounts of the what and why.

And when I say that I might be talking about UK politics, US politics, Russia v. Georgia, or thw Ludovici speed-trap.

Too many people have got away with lying their shitty little heads off for far too long.

And, no, I'm not in a good mood.

#19 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 06:36 AM:

Writing slogans on bombs is not a new thing. I think it is entirely plausible for the Russians to be doing it; it's just a morale boosting technique, and not in itself a war crime.

#20 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 09:01 AM:

Beck is, as usual, making a mountain out of pothole.

As has been pointed out, "signing" munitions is something that has likely been going on since there *were* munitions.

As for the content of he "messages," I'd like to remark that the military command structures do their own propagandizing and "motivation" to the troops, all in the "good cause" of mtiovating for the "good fight"

I remember coverage of when troops were being ushered onto the transports on the way to being dropped in Iraq just after the start of the war, and the comment from an awful lot of them that this was "because we have to get back with Saddam because of 9/11"

I'm sure that artillery rounds and bombs had little messages written on them.

#22 ::: Dragoness Eclectic ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 11:11 AM:

re: #20

Since archaeologists have found ancient greek lead sling bullets with epithets carved in them ("Take that!" and such like), I have to agree with you.

#23 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Allegedly, British seamen used to write "postpaid" on cannonballs, because as you know it is mortal to interfere with the mail.

#24 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 07:29 PM:

It has also been very common since the advent of bombs and one-piece artillery shells for the makers to write on them before leaving the factory. This has been use in several wars to "involve" the home front workers in the spirit of the war...

Along the same lines, there were many instances of Rosie the Riveters hiding risque pictures of themselves in planes and tanks that rolled off the lines, so the boys "over there" could have a little morale booster.

#25 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 08:55 PM:

But where are the stories of Georgian babies dumped out of incubators by Iraqi Russian soldiers? We're not morally required to stick our dicks into the sausage grinder intervene for humanitarian reasons until we get some good atrocity stories.

The reality, of course, is that we're not going to go to war with Russia over Georgian independence, anymore than Russia is going to go to war with us over Iranian independence. It's just not that important to us, or them. There are dangerous edge cases where it's not clear to both sides where the triggers are for starting a war (cf First Gulf War, Korean war, Taiwan), but that's not the case here.

#26 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 09:29 PM:

The reality, of course, is that we're not going to go to war with Russia over Georgian independence, anymore than Russia is going to go to war with us over Iranian independence. It's just not that important to us, or them.

I think Iran's probably a bit more important to them on geostrategic grounds. True, they won't go to war themselves, but there's some not-yet-combat-tested technology on both sides that is likely to get an interesting workout if someone supposedly on our side decides diplomacy has finally failed.

#27 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 09:34 PM:

albatross: I don't know about Iran: There are a lot of regional issues (and oil) which that issue touches.

The more likely intervention I see is China telling us that if we attack Iran, they will call our paper.

At which point we go broke.

#28 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 10:33 PM:


If China calls our debt in, they too will go down the drain. By now everyone knows that we can't pay back our debt, but that just makes their books look bad if we default, so they pretends everything is going to be just fine.

As for war with Russia, no way, not for Georgia, which is why their President was naive to believe the US/NATO promises we would "support" his democratic efforts. We'll support them as long as it doesn't involve anything more strenuous than spending money to build an oil pipeline, apparently.

#29 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Terry #27:

I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that if the Chinese stop buying US treasury securities, the rates will go up somewhat, and other investors will buy them, because lots of people are happy to be paid in US dollars, as they have business to transact in US dollars. If we look like we're going to have some massive amount of inflation (say, because of out of control deficit spending and little economic growth), then those securities will stop looking like a good investment, and the rates will go up still more. But it's not like China or anyone else can "call in" our debts. They can only stop buying our treasury securities, and sell the ones they have.

If China (or other large investors) decided suddenly to sell off all their treasury securities, they'd surely do something ghastly to the US economy, but they'd also do something ghastly to the world economy, and they'd lose a huge amount of money doing it. The global economic collapse would hurt them as badly as us, I think. Even a US-only economic collapse would seriously hurt China, as you can see by looking at the "Made in" stickers on pretty much everything sold in Wal-Mart. A whole lot of factories in China would soon be idle if the US market dried up. And the Chinese government definitely cares about that kind of consequence, as it directly affects both their tax base and political stability in their country.

That doesn't mean that sort of thing can't be done, or won't be--people have done crazy stuff before. But I don't think it's too likely.

#30 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 12:41 AM:

"Don’t the bombs blow up when they hit the ground, making the writing on them hard to read?"

Not all of them, "Made in Russia". But seriously, I have heard of these reports during the first couple of days of Russia's invasion in the news.

Allegedly, a few bombs didn't explode and that's how the writing is visible. President Saakashvili did actually state in one of the CNN interviews that the said writing was found on a bomb that did not explode.

While I have not actively searched for independently confirmed reports, I suppose the bombs can fail to explode for many reasons: detonator malfunction, deflection against angled object (detonator never activated), hitting a soft surface (a swamp)?

Just wanted to comment on the fact that for bombs not to explode is credible and this has happened in many other conflicts and wars throughout the World.

As far as the credibility of the writing itself, it is also possible. "Inventing" such claims is silly and the president of Georgia most likely wouldn't make such comment unless he had a credible source. I would still want to see more evidence of this before I would believe it 100%. Unfortunately this is next to impossible. Any such evidence (such as photo) can be disclaimed by the adversary as fabricated. Only possibility would be an independent eyewitness that probably doesn't exist.

One would think, why would Russians "give away" their true motif in such way. Let's just say that NATO to Russia is an adversary, a threat, and they are not secretive about it, especially on the bombs that were supposed to explode.

Writings on military equipment is not new. Airplanes, tanks and bombs have been written on in other wars. It's kind of a "morale-lifter" activity for troops.

Whether the words were actually written on the bomb or not is kind of moot point because the entire conflict has it written on it in big bold letters.

#31 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 03:52 AM:

If the Russian soldiers really wrote messages on the bombs, wouldn't they also have uploaded videos where we could see them?

#32 ::: Bacchus ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 04:10 AM:

As I was reading this thread I couldn't shake the idea that I saw photos of bombs with Russian writing on them earlier today.

Dredged my memory, found the photo. It doesn't prove anything -- it's at a Russian porn/humor site that serves a mix of porn, cruel pics of drunks and ugly people, and the "college humor" style of shock / low humor pics that people email each other. Photoshops are common there, believe nothing.

The blog post title translates to "Our answer to Saakashvili"; my Russian is not up to translating the words on the bomb. There are 150ish comments afterwords, many of them vulgar according to the words I know and the ones Google Translate knows. But I don't actually know what the bomb says, and of course it could be a photoshop or a bomb somewhere in Siberia that's never gonna see the front.

The URL follows, for the brave and curious. I shan't link it, because the destination is unsafe in several different ways, including at least one pop-up warning. You DO NOT want Russian malware on your computer, visit this URL only if you are 100% confident in your cyberdefenses:

#33 ::: maria ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 09:17 AM:

#32 ::: Bacchus ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 04:10 AM:


Like in many countries, there are different people. I'm from Russia and dare say that you should visit some of official sites better.

We have many respectful people, who even critisize Medvedev and make their conversation in more reasonable way.

For me I'm glad to find this site, where people at a very high level exchange different sources and try to form out independent view on th topic.

Thinking reasonably, I'm closer to the position, that we can't deny the fact, that both Russian and USA rpesidents believe, they are the only ruling powers in the world.

Unfortunately, Bush, as a real power tried to invest in Saakashvilly. I know for sure, it was not the right choice. He is at a high extent selfish and ambicious, he would probably spent USA investments in the way, involving his personal interest.

The ruling leaders of the world (including Russians, they are no except) have to start understanding, that they are responsible (due to their status) for the stability in the world, becoming more and more fredgile.

Of cause, in another topic on this forum, I behaved myself more radically.

Sorry for that.

Because Russians see in this action of Saakashvilly more powerfull green-light, given by Bush to struggle against Russia. May be this is not reasonable, and we are not to be threatened, but when military camps are set all around Russia, this seems to be s sign of unfriendly action from the side of NATO. Who knows (thats the fought of an ordinary Russian), for what purpose they were established. May be Bush is going to bomb us, to establish the world only ruling power.

Would you please help me on this patalogical reasoning. Because I'm an adequate person, and I don't want to fall into hysteria.

Please, comment on this, I appreciate you point of view,, thanks.

#34 ::: maria ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 09:28 AM:

29 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Albatross, I'm a kind of agreen with you. I'm not so good at financial market, but I'm an economist.

From the perspective of a consumer market, the China also depends on USA today.

Their average income is veru low, while industrial power have climbing up quicker in the past years. They have a well-developed trading realationships with the USA, whose customers have much greater spendings.

And its cheaepr to export to USA, rather than to other countries.

At leasy their dependance from export-import trading with western countries will prevent them from chnging the current position on the financial market, too.

#35 ::: Chaos ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Well, it's not like US military hardware never has foolish and inappropriate sentiments written on it...
For example, this tank during the Iraq invasion. The messages may be offensive, but they're no reason to do anything - no more than the French had reason to be worried because of a silly slogan on a tank.

#36 ::: Nell ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 11:41 AM:

Until there are news photos of such ordnance, there's no particular need to believe it, though as many commenters have said, the practice is almost universal.

Saakashvili has made a series of wild claims -- including that Georgian air defenses had shot down, variously, between twenty and sixty Russian planes. I saw him make the messages-on-bombs claim among many others in an unnerving, unhinged interview he gave to a BBC reporter he'd summoned to his office at 3 a.m. (on the 12th, I think).

#37 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 12:29 PM:

“This is for America. This is for NATO. This is for Bush.”

It seems unfortunate that the poor Georgians get to be the recipients of bombs so clearly intended for other targets.

Note to people with weapons. If you know your bombs/bullets will hit half a planet from your intended target, why bother to fire?

#38 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 03:06 PM:

"This is for Bush." -- they'll have to get in line, and it's a long line.

#39 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 03:50 PM:

Would it hurt China to call our paper? Yes.

But, it seems to me the real question they are asking themselves is, would it hurt them more to lose the oil they import from Iran?

So the realpolitik of making the threats, taking the hits, (as the world copes), and the probability they would join the ranks of those who want to change the denominating of oil from US Dollars to Euros, and so shift things.

The US is not so large that, like a Bear Stearns, the rest of the world will bail us out. They can get by without us being the big place to dump good for money; they will have to, unless someone, somewhere, changes the way we are doing business; because the present model (which is on a par with the spending pattern said to have broken the Soviet Union) isn't sustainable.

So the big question, to those holding our paper is: will our invading Iran precipitate a greater affect on the world economy (by disrupting it directly, or by our collapse from trying pay for it) than the disruptions such a call would make?

Honestly, I think the way to bet that is with calling the paper, and I'll wager the players who have clout with the republicans needed to make it not happen, have enough interests which would be upset by such a war; to make the threat stick, before more than, localised; and limited, damage was done to the world economy.

There have been discussions suggesting that just such a long term plan is why China has been buying so much paper.

#40 ::: maria ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 04:44 PM:

#37 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 12:29 PM:

“This is for America. This is for NATO. This is for Bush.”

It seems unfortunate that the poor Georgians get to be the recipients of bombs so clearly intended for other targets.

Note to people with weapons. If you know your bombs/bullets will hit half a planet from your intended target, why bother to fire?

It is for approved escalation of conflicts all over the world for ations of not one but many parties (I mean governments and pseudo-organisation who can't care less about troubles of ordinary people and inactions of others).

One wise man said- do not be afraid of enemies, they will show you your weak points to be improved. Be afraid of indifferent people - with their condonation the most disastors crimes in the world are committed.

I wish the world has the hope with the people like you

But remember all innocent people here should be accounted for

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