Russia Attacks Georgia? Or Vice Versa?

17 08 2008

Check out this interesting analysis (and history lesson) from Dmitry Orlov on what led to the current conflict between Russia and Georgia:

Shevardnadze slowly sank into a morass of corruption and national decay, until finally even the West decided that he smelled bad and unceremoniously replaced him with a shiny new face: the American-educated Mikhail Saakashvili. And this brings us to the current conflict, which he started. It is unclear why he decided to start it, but then his American education might offer a clue: the US doesn’t seem to need good reasons to start wars either.

It may be difficult for some people to grasp why it is that the Abkhaz or the Ossetians do not much fancy suddenly becoming Georgian, so let me offer you a precise analogy. Suppose Los Angeles, California, were to collapse as the USSR once did, and East L.A. quickly moved to declare its independence. Suppose, further, that the 88% of its population that is Hispanic/Latino voted that the other 12% were free to stay on as “guests,” provided they only spoke Spanish. The teaching of English were to be forbidden. After some bloody skirmishes, East L.A. split up into ethnic enclaves. Then some foreign government (say, Russian, or Chinese) stepped in and started shipping in weapons and providing training to the Latino faction, in support of their efforts to restore East L.A.’s “territorial integrity.” As a non-Hispanic resident of East L.A., would you then (1) run and hide, (2) stay and fight, or (3) pick up a copy of “Spanish for Dummies” and start cramming?

The Abkhaz and the South Ossetians have made their preference very clear by applying for and being issued with a Russian passport. That’s right, the majority of the present native population of these two “separatist enclaves” are bona fide citizens of the Russian Federation with all the privileges appertaining thereto. Lacking any other options, they are happy to accept protection from Russia, use Russian as their lingua franca, and fight for their right to be rid of Georgians once and for all. One of the privileges of being a Russian citizen at this stage, when Russia has recovered from its political and economic woes following the Soviet collapse, is that if some foreign entity comes and shells a settlement full of Russian citizens, you can be sure that Russia will open one amazingly huge can of whoop-ass on whoever it feels is responsible. Add to that the atrocities allegedly perpetrated by the Georgian forces, such as finishing off wounded Russian peacekeepers, and you can see why the normally shy and reticent Russian army might get behind the idea of making sure Georgia no longer poses a military threat to anyone. The Georgians have really done it to themselves this time, and we should all feel very sorry for them. They are not evil people, just incredibly misguided by their horrible national politicians. The West, and the US in particular, bear responsibility for enabling this bloodbath by providing them with arms, training, and encouraging them to fight for their “territorial integrity.”

Other interesting reads on the topic: Who’s Lincoln Here? and The Real Aggressor. Here’s some good questions from the latter article:

It’s too bad Obama is going along with the game plan, but then again, he was never good on the Russian question to begin with, so I can’t say I’m disappointed. South Ossetia is not now a part of “sovereign Georgian territory,” and it hasn’t been for nearly two decades, no matter what McCain and Obama would have us believe. If they, along with GWB, are going to stand by Saakashvili’s side as he mows down civilians and imposes martial law on a war-torn, dirt-poor, and much-abused people, then may they all be damned to hell ā€“ that is, if we can find a rung low enough for them.

It’s funny ā€“ if you like your humor black ā€“ but when Slobodan Milosevic was supposedly doing to Kosovo what Saakashvili is now doing to South Ossetia, the U.S. launched bombing raids and “liberated” the Kosovars from what we were told was to be a gruesome fate. There are many reasons to doubt that this attempted “genocide” ever took place, but given that something very bad was going on in the former Yugoslavia, one has to ask: why don’t the same standards apply to South Ossetia?

I’ll tell you why: because the victims, this time, are Russians, Slavs who haven’t achieved official victim status in the lexicon of Western “humanitarians.”

Imagine if, say, Colombia invaded Panama, and rained bombs down on the many U.S. citizens currently living there. Would the U.S. act to ensure their safety? You betcha! So somebody please tell me why Russia hasn’t the right to defend its own citizens, and even to deter and punish Georgian aggression.

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