Saturday, August 09, 2008


A semi-authoritarian country wishing to re-exert its control on a breakaway province which has been practically independent for more than a decade resolves to armed intervention which includes firing on peacekeeping forces present in the region, but is pushed back by the intervention of a superpower strongly opposed by its long time cold-war era opponent. Are we talking of Serbia, Kossova, USA and Russia? No, rather of Georgia, South Ossetia (and Abkhazia), Russia and USA.

Now, all would be a "normal" old fashioned sphere on influence's quarrel were it not for the uncommon, even for the protagonists of the events, amount of hypocrisy involved. It is not one year yet that the USA supported the independence of Kossovo, the breakaway province of Serbia, after having been the leader in the war that wrestled it away from Serbia's rule. Having in Kossova's case explicitly rejected the principle of territorial integrity for Serbia, now they want it upheld for Georgia.

And what would be the difference? That Georgia is a democracy that needs to be defended (which is false) , that Russia has been unlawfully deploying forces in South Ossetia in the first place (false, considering that the Russian forces have been there after a joint agreement dated 1996 between the then Georgian president and the South Ossetian one following the war in the early 90s). All that, disregarding that South Ossetia and Abkhazia had been "donated" to Georgia by Georgian soviet dictator Stalin (himself a Georgian) despite ethnic, linguistic and religious differences.

Now, even more worrying (and no doubt a trigger, if not the trigger, of the crisis) is Georgia's bid to enter the NATO. Personally, I think it's an absolute nonsense and a very shortsighted move to allow countries neighboring Russia to enter the NATO, potentially forcing an armed reaction from the western countries in what Russia consider, and rightly so, its backyard. The USA almost started WWIII when Russia moved to install missiles in Cuba, would Russia back down seeing USA doing exactly the same forty years later? Is it worth risking a shooting war with Russia for a semi-dictatorial aggressive state in the Caucasus? No, thank you.

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