Georgian nights and days

by Michael O. Allen on August 12, 2008

A friend elsewhere (on Facebook) criticized my post yesterday about the Caucasus crisis.

He said, in part:

“with due respect, I’m a bit worried that even avowedly progressive people like you in America seem to hold rather one-sided view of the current South Ossetia crisis: without apparently/admittedly realising that a mirror-image history of our action over Kosovo is repeating itself!”

I don’t deny that my reaction to the crisis has been knee-jerk:

Russia, a nation with 142 million people on the world’s largest land mass, stomps Georgia (Pop. 4.6 million), one of the world’s smallest nation.

That was and still is my reaction to this crisis.

I should say that I do not have any romantic notions of the light of democracy being extinguished in Georgia. My progressive leanings does not blind me to the flawed character at the center of this drama.

Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili is a thug and a con man. He was at the head of a mob of drunken louts (I would not know this but he allegedly, clad in jeans and a leather jacket, held a single rose on his way to parliament that day–hence, the ‘rose revolution’) who used the excuse of a disputed election in November 2003 to storm the parliament and literally drive then president Eduard Shevardnadze out of office.

I don’t doubt that the United States, tired of Shevardnadze’s halting steps toward full alliance with the West, put Saakashvili up to that bit of political adventure.

My interlocutor’s Kosovo comparison is actually more than a bit flawed.

The ethnic Ossetians do not really have much of an argument with Georgia. What discord exists in the region is usually fomented by Russia and the puppet regime (made up of Russian officials and intelligence agents) it set up there in the early 1990’s after it invaded. There is no history of ethnic violence, no threat of Georgia, despite Vladimir Putin’s claim, ethnically cleansing the Ossetians.

It is a sort of pretend breakaway region in that it is Russia trying to gouge it out of Georgia. The region is an internationally recognized region of Georgia. But Russia sees it fit to cause mischief just to let Georgia know it is there.

As president, Saakasvhili has been extremely foolish, taunting Russia by making cooing noises at NATO, asking for membership and parading its military, equipped by the West and the U.S., provocatively. You should not be flirting with nations and institutions that one of the worlds major powers (and still very dangerous because it is wounded and has an inferiority complex) considers hostile to all its interests and aspirations when you share a long border with that power.

As I said yesterday, Brother Putin (Vlad the Impaler) don’t play that. He will squash you like a bug. I am actually surprised he did not just kill Saakasvhili and be done with it. That’s what he did with most enemies inside and outside Russia.

When Putin set up that recent provocation in South Ossetia, Saakashvili’s response was not wise, not at all, the opposite of what a statesman would do.

In fact, he responded like a drunk would when challenged to a bar fight. Not having the judgment that he was in no condition to fight, he waded in and, in the process, hurt his nation.

Saakashvili, if he’s not killed, will have no country left to run (Putin might even take his beautiful wife, Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs, for his own). Saakashvili will end up pumping gas out of “that lone gas pump in a desert” that his country, Georgia, is about to become.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carl Savich August 19, 2008 at 10:41 AM

South Ossetia is exactly like the Kosovo scenario. Both are essentially proxy wars.

Albanian Muslims have two countries in the heart of Europe now. Why? because of US tanks and missilies, because of the US and NATO military presence in Kosovo, an intenationally and legally recognized part of Serbia. In both cases, tanks are deciding the issue. In Kosovo, it is US tanks. In South Ossetia, it is Russian tanks.

Kosovo is not a country. It has no economy and no political or social history. The name “Kosovo” is actually a Serbian word that means “place of blackbirds”. Almost all of the towns, cities, and villages in Kosovo have Serbian names and a Serbian history that goes back half a millennium. Kosovo is a phony country. It is in fact a legal part of Serbia and is part of the UN recognized borders of Serbia.

Whjat the US did is pull a fast one here. Kosovo was not recognized as independent by the UN and by Serbia and about three-quarters of the world. Only the US and its satellite states have recognized Kosovo. So, under international law and the UN, the unilateral declaration of independence is illegal and criminal.

But the US government does not tell you this. The US occupation of Kosovo is illegal under the UN and international law.

Then the US has the audacity and arrogance to accuse Russia over South Ossetian independence. Kosovo and South Ossetia are the same scenarios. They only exist because of respective American and Russian tanks. Take away American tanks in Kosovo, and there is no more Albanian Muslim Kosovo. Serbia would reintegrate it within its internationally recognized borders.

Russian leaders announced last week that South Ossand Abkhazia will be recognized as free and independent. And who is going to stop them? No one is. Kosovo and South ossetia about force, nothing else. Might makes right. Both cases are based upon the same principle.

Just compare the facts in both cases. South ossetians are over 90% of the population in South Ossetia and in a 2006 referendum they voted overwhelmingly for independence from Tbilisi, over 90% voting for independence. Moreover, this genocidal aggression and attack on Tskhinvali by a US puppet leader, one installed in what you concede is essentially a CIA coup, means that georgia has lost these areas forever and permanently. Only World War III can change these facts on the ground. And that is why Kosovo and South Ossetia are exactly the same scenarions. Independent “nations” that exist only due to the proxy wars of the superpowers, that exist only through force.

But I do think South ossetia has a more legitimate claim to independence because it has been de facto independent since 1992 and emerged during the break up of the Soviet Union. The Kosovo case is different because Kosovo was always legally a part of Serbia, internationally recognized as a part of Serbia. The way the US and NATO got around this legal barrier was to create a bogus and phony Holocaust or genocide claim for Kosovo. There was never any basis in fact for the genocide claim. But that didn’t stop the US from using Kosovo as a proxy conflict to dismembere Serbia and to support an illegal separatist movement.

At any rate, discussion is moot and futile because both South Ossetia and Kosovo are guaranteed by the superpowers. Russian tanks are in South ossetia along with SS 21 missiles. In Kosovo, there are American tanks. Might makes right. Both cases are exactly the same.

Andy Ray August 28, 2008 at 7:09 AM

A spectre is haunting Europe; the spectre of Cold War II.

Cold War II seems to have now formally broken out with the Russian dismemberment of Georgia (albeit being triggered by Saakashvili’s recklessly CRIMINAL rocket attack on his own CIVILIANS at the middle of night!). Possibly this is the logical prognosis of the Bush-Blair doctrine of dismantling the painstaking achievements of Reagan-Thatcher-Gorbachev by unnecessarily needling Russia instead of capitalising on its eagerness to be “European” and be the vanguard against terrorism. So, whilst we may brace ourselves to sadly watch history repeating itself (unless Obama’s diplomatic approach later on stops the rot), let me defer to the oracle of Matthew Arnold (“Dover Beach”) written in the 19th Century :

….. the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

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