Some Observations on the Georgia Conflict


Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

Some months ago, I started reading about Georgia because I was interested in setting a vampire novel there. Why Georgia? Who the fuck knows. I’ve therefore learned a few things about the nation, and have found their political struggles fascinating. Therefore, the war there has been at the top of my mind, especially because it’s a flashpoint for what the next 50 years is going to be like in Europe and Central Asia.

To summarize a few things I’ve been reading or hearing lately:

Steve Clemons: Russia is pissed off at NATO because the US pushed so hard for a fastrack to Kosovo independence from Serbia. Russia views Serbia as a fellow Slav nation antagonized by its Albanian minority in Kosovo, and furthermore, Russia sees the secession of Kosovo as setting a dangerous precedent that the secession of South Ossetia from Georgia would not set since secession would mean union with North Ossetia — part of Russia.

Robert Baer in Time: Russia has remained plugged in to Central Asia in terms of intelligence and troop presence near its southern borders — even while the US has courted those many ‘Stans that seek to distance themselves politically from Russia. Those nations have still sent envoys to check with Moscow on every major decision, even as they played footsie with the United States. The invasion of Georgia is a way of Russia asserting its dominance in the region, especially in the context of its newfound oil wealth.

More from Baer: Russia views the United States as having created the “Islamist Frankenstein” in Afghanistan during the 1980s, solely for the purposes of opposing Russia during the US-Russian proxy war there. As aggrieved as the US was by the events of 9/11/2001, Russia may in part blame the US for creating Russia’s own troubles in Chechnya by stirring up anti-Russian, anti-Western sentiment in Central Asia. Abhkazian and South Ossetian independence goals certainly have to be viewed in the context of Russia’s long war in Chechnya.

From many sources: Russia’s goal here, essentially, was to install a pro-Russian government. They practically stated it outright, putting it in the context of crimes against the Georgian people committed by the Georgian government, which is pro-US. Russia has said it would be happiest if Saakshvili, the President of Georgia (who’s my age, holy shit!) stepped down, but they’re not insisting on it. Yet.


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