Monday, September 01, 2014


Watching WikiLeaks' 'Cablegate' From Tbilisi

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton toast good relations in Tbilisi in July.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton toast good relations in Tbilisi in July.
By Ghia Nodia
The main news to emerge from the huge WikiLeaks scandal so far is that there are no conspiracies and everything in the world actually is more or less what it seems. And that the diplomats of the democratic countries -- and of the United States in particular -- are amazingly honest. Not that they don't hide things. What would diplomacy be without that? But they hide specific things for perfectly respectable reasons.

There hasn't turned out to be any striking difference between what politicians and diplomats say publicly and what they are saying among themselves. Imagine: All the secrets of the U.S. State Department were exposed and not a single person had to resign! The scandalous founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, made the timid suggestion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has to go since she gave a politically incorrect order to spy on some officials at the United Nations. Shocking! Only Assange has found himself in trouble -- facing sexual-assault charges in Sweden. It is an embarrassing charge for a champion of free speech.

In the end, the shouts of the extreme anarchists of all countries to the effect that bold individuals have defeated repressive institutions and that the dark deeds of the mighty in this world (particularly those of the American imperialists) have finally been exposed for all to see turn out to be worthless.

Dark Secrets?

The August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia is one of the hot topics within the WikiLeaks material. There are still many questions about how the war was conducted (Who started it? Who is to blame?) and about the contradictory reactions of the international community, and of the Western democracies in particular. So it was logical to hope that the secret reports of the diplomats might clear up some things. I read through the WikiLeaks materials carefully and then studied all the commentaries on the subject, but I didn't find anything at all that made me doubt what I already thought about the war.

I may be seen as somebody biased in a "pro-Georgian" way. That is, I believe that Georgia was the victim of aggression in that conflict and not its perpetrator. The majority of people I know believe that the WikiLeaks material plays into Georgia's hands and only confirms Tbilisi's version of the war. However, those who believe the opposite cite the same source and argue that Tbilisi's "peaceful" pretensions have again been exposed for what they really were.

Let's take, for example, a report by then-U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Teft. From his dispatch, it is clear that the Georgian government was not planning any war and only reacted to unfolding events -- correctly or incorrectly, that's another question.

I found nothing surprising here. I knew Teft -- he loves jazz and has a remarkable sense of humor and heaps of common sense. His assessment is completely logical to me. But those who hold opposing views deduce from the WikiLeaks materials that Teft had fallen under the influence of Georgian leaders. Can you imagine that? In principle, I suppose so.

Incidentally, in some later WikiLeaks material, another U.S. ambassador -- this one in Moscow -- advised Washington not to sell defensive weapons to Georgia because doing so would upset the U.S.-Russian "reset" process. Teft advised otherwise, arguing that every country -- including Georgia -- has the right to defend itself, particularly when there is a concrete danger.

Reality As It Actually Is

What can we make of this disagreement? It is possible that one of the ambassadors was right and the other was mistaken. We won't discuss now which was which. But we can draw a more general conclusion -- that ambassadors often fall under the influence of the politicians of the countries where they are serving. That's what they call "going native." That is, developing a tendency to see problems through the prism of the local society rather than from Washington's point of view. That is why diplomats are constantly rotated. None of this is news to anyone.

And so on. We knew that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is an emotional man and that he held very difficult negotiations in Moscow both during the fighting and later in September. But now we learn that he personally grabbed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by the lapels and called him a liar (but he didn't grab President Dmitry Medvedev by the tie and say the same thing). It is an interesting detail, of course. It might be useful if they ever make a film about these events.

So far, though, I've only heard about another film -- one about Julian Assange that will be made by the notorious enfant terrible of contemporary counterculture, Michael Moore. Well, more power to him. They are two of a kind, and let them once again expose the false and repressive essence of American imperialism. And we'll keep on trying to understand reality as it actually is. And if we are lucky, maybe we'll figure some things out.

Ghia Nodia is professor of politics at Ilia State University. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Alex from: LA
December 20, 2010 21:21
If this is true:
"Ghia Nodia is professor of politics at Ilia State University. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL"

Doesn't mean that RFE/RL agrees with Ghia Nodia, That why his opinion is here! and this "And we'll keep on trying to understand reality as it actually is." Now that's a load lies.

I've been reading news on this website for more than 3 years now, and my honest opinion is that RFE/RL can be very biased towards who filled its coffers with loot. Pro-Georgian, Pro-Turk/Azeri! All the bad news (it's allies or employees from those countries) about some countries that it covers never gets to get on the site. And I understand why, but it's another thing to try and show that you (RFE/RL) are neutral, well that's the job for the reader, so please let us judge your work and don't try to convince us (the reader) of your stance.

Thank you for the hard work and try to hire more unbiased staff!

by: Henry from: New York
December 21, 2010 02:15
For a much more honest account of what WikiLeaks revealed about the US and the Russia-Georgia war, viewers of RFE/RL should go to

by: vytautasba from: vilnius
December 21, 2010 07:32
The author is a bit too hard on Wikileaks director and Michael Moore. Sadly in this day and age where DENIAL (or NO COMMENT) is so commonplace people in democratic societies face serious challenges in keeping informed. If anything such leaks give us all a short reality check on what is really going on. Also keep in mind that Wikileaks and Michael Moore have angered many in the establishment. Much machinery now is being used to discredit these people. I would'nt call them "anarchists" just yet. Anarchists hope to sow chaos that will bring down the establishment. These two people seem to be attempting to seek the truth behind the denials. Their efforts may result in a more creditable and responsible establishment. Perhaps too idealistic?

by: Blanka from: Vienna
December 21, 2010 07:37
Nodia repeats known fact – that Assange faces sexual-assault charges in Sweden and comments: “it is an embarrassing charge for a champion of free speech.” Indeed so. The more compelling the reasons why Nodia and other commentators should wait until there will be a final court decision in this matter. After all, charges and rumours of various kinds, among them often those linked to sexuality (and in the Caucasus often those of homosexuality), are used frequently to discredit.
In Response

by: Taxpayer from: USA
December 22, 2010 02:13
Forgive me Blanka, but I'm confused now - is Nodia a man or a woman or does it depend on the preferences of the grantmaker?

by: Taxpayer from: USA
December 21, 2010 08:58
Here is a good article about the nature of this relationship the Tie-chew "president" of Georgia and his masters:
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 21, 2010 10:27
Yikes, was that actually paid for by the Kremlin? Western-paid election monitors are part of the vast Western conspiracy to spread "democracy" and "freedom," huh? Come out of your basement, dude.
In Response

by: Taxpayer from: USA
December 22, 2010 02:07
That would be all very funny if I didn't have first hand experience with this crap. We were well funded occupying best office spaces - far from basements...
In Response

by: AntiBidlo from: Sky
January 05, 2011 00:42
Honestly, you seem just another Bidlo from Russia and completly not a "Taxpayer" from Russian Fed. :)

Oh and that "Tiechewer" has mamanged to turn his country into one of the lest corrupted ones in THE WORLD and to make it one of the esieast places to make business.
In Response

by: Taxpayer from: USA
January 08, 2011 02:44
Hey AB from the sky,

I don't react to such cheap personal attacks - call me anything, but call me for dinner;)

If your dear Tie-chew leader Saakashvilli made such a miracle to one of the most corrupt republics of ex-USSR - good for him and for these poor people under him.

But something tells me that this is more of a good PR trick. If it was anything close to truth, Armenian transits through this protectorate wouldn't cost as much as the rest of the transit route. And corruption free Georgian border guards... what a joke!

by: xiongnu
December 21, 2010 09:22
Ghia Nodia writes: "The main news to emerge from the huge WikiLeaks scandal so far is that there are no conspiracies and everything in the world actually is more or less what it seems."

More or less?

"The US worked with high-ranking officials in Spain to try to derail legal accountability for torture by US officials.

Spain has opened two judicial inquiries into torture allegations against US officials at Guantanamo.

A series of cables details secret meetings and communications between officials of the two countries. An April 1, 2009 cable (Reference ID 09MADRID347) describes a meeting between the main Spanish prosecutor and US officials. The prosecutor promises to proceed slowly and to try to make sure the case is not assigned to the most pro-human rights judge in Spain, Judge Garzon. An April 19, 2009 cable (Reference 09MADRID392) tells of numerous meetings between US officials and Spanish officials, including the Attorney General of Spain, who promises not to support the case. A cable dated May 5, 2009 (Reference ID 09MADRID440) describes further meetings between US officials and the prosecutor who promises to "embarrass" the Judge into dropping the case. " - From "Cover-ups, Coups, and Drones" – A Holiday Sampler of What Wikileaks Reveals about the US by Bill Quigley, Dec 19.

No conspiracy here, eh, Nodia?

"The UK promised to protect US interests in the UK review of Iraq war. In a September 22, 2009 cable (Reference ID 09LONDON2198) UK officials "promised that the UK had put measures into place to protect your interest during the inquiry into the causes of the Iraq war. He noted that Iraq no longer seems to be a major issue in the US, but he said it would become a big issue - a feeding frenzy - in the UK when the inquiry takes off." Op. cit.

No conspiracy, eh?

"Wikileaks documents show the US knew in advance about the 2006 military coup in Thailand and changed its definition of the 2009 coup in Honduras within a 30 day period. [...] The US backpedaling on the coup in Honduras continues to this day." Op. cit.

Oh, what amazing honesty!

//Amnesty International released pictures of a US manufactured cruise missile that carried cluster bombs used in December 17, 2009 attack on a community in Abyan, Yemen which killed 14 alleged members of Al Qaeda and 41 local residents - including 14 women and 21 children. At the time of the AI report, June 6, 2010, Yemeni officials said that its forces had carried out that attack. AI asked the US to explain its role but the US did not. After Wikileaks disclosures, it is clear that the US carried out the attack and both countries were lying. // Op. cit.

14 women and 21 children killed, but, eh, I suppose that truth was kept hidden for "perfectly respectable reasons."

Perfectly respectable to Ghia Nodia, perhaps, but not to me.

by: new russian from: london
December 23, 2010 06:15
IWhat kind of imperialism you represent - more likely Russian as you are very anti -American throughout your article. . .

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
December 24, 2010 09:14
WikiLeaks is another succsess of pro-Russian propaganda, if not even more - not only they showed violations by USA, but they did as much as possible to disclose information that would help so called "insurgency", forged by Russia that vindictivly forge another take-over Afghanistan, when USA will leave...
It is OK in a Just World to make public such violations and crimes, but where was WikiLeaks and alike when Russia unleashed bestial genocide against millions Afghan men, women and chiildren?
Where they were when Russia unleashed simillar genocide against hundreds of thousands Chechens and Georgians in Abkhazia?

2. Putin and Zhirinovsky are great!
Are their proxies accusing Nodia of being "Gomik"?
So far, as I understood, his way of writing is just typical for one being educated on occupied once by Russia territories - not "womenly" but so carefull that it "nodeing" arround the intended points that makes Nodia so weak that some of you used it as a "proff that Georgia wasn't a victim of aggression"!
If a victim doesn't scream too much "murder" he must be "murderer of himself"?
Not the bestially treasonous and plotting in advance its crimes Russia?
The same happened during Abkhazian genocide - because proud Georgian people didn't scream, being murdered and leaving through frozen mountains on foots in hundreds of thousands, Russian, British and Sweeden reporters made World to ignore them, while lying about "pure Abkhazian people" pointing at the few Russian invaders in Turbans!

(will continue later)

3. Do not mix-up pure crimes against humanity, aggression and annexations by Russia to repopulate land and priopperty of other nations to breed race of bestial Varyangian-Prussian Russia (even they show by lying propaganda few GRU, Spetcnaz and KGB spies in Turbans to missguide the World) with USA-Russia superpower pseudo-games, incinuated by imperial resurectors...

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