Russia/Georgia 1

Unfortunately reaction to the Russia-Georgia conflict in the blogosphere has tended to be both ill-informed and over-simplified. The right have rushed to back Georgia and sections of the left to back Russia. There has, bluntly, been little worth reading.

If I can put on my professional diplomat’s hat (having with great reluctance taken off my producer’s hat, as the Fringe run of Nadira’s show closed yesterday) I would acknowledge that there are many diplomats who are achingly dull and conventional. But the best of them can bring knowledge of the region, languages, cultures and people to bear, and apply it to good effect. So, joining the old buffers’ club, I want warmly to recommend to you the thoughts of Ivor Roberts:

What is sauce for the Kosovo goose is sauce for the South Ossetian gander. In other words, if the West is prepared to champion Kosovo’s secession from Serbia and disregard internationally recognised borders without the endorsement of the United Nations Security Council, it cannot be surprised if Russia does the same.

and of Brian Barder

Of course recent Russian behaviour in Georgia has been disgraceful, brutal and disproportionate, and deserves to be condemned. But it’s as well to remember that even before the recent conflict Russia had military forces stationed legally in Georgia under an earlier agreement

It is well worth reading both articles in full, including the comments. I should say that I don’t agree 100% with either of them, but this is thoughtful and stimulating stuff.

When Shevardnaze was deposed, he flew straight to Tashkent. His old friend Karimov hosted him, and Shevardnaze advised Karimov not to allow any liberal dissent. Following De Tocqueville’s maxim, Shevardnaze said his mistake was reforming- reform leads to revolution. Karimov took him seriously as detailed in Murder in Samarkand, and intensified his bloody crackdown.

Attacks on liberty don’t only happen abroad. It is an astonishing fact that, under new rules affecting FCO employees brought in by New Labour, in future comments like Ivor’s, Brian’s and mine will be illegal.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

One thought on “Russia/Georgia

  • writeon

    Quite right, Craig. I keep wondering if the crisis in Georgia wasn't a 'trap' for the Russians, in the sense that they really didn't have an alternative but to react to the Georgian attack. Not reacting, seen from their pespective, would have signalled that Russia was still weak and ripe for 'pushing around' by a 'militantly agressive' United States bent on taming the Russian bear, and showing it up for what it really is. Such a humiliation, bested by little Gerogia could well have had serious internal repercussions as well. Showing the current leadership as indecisive and incompetent and unable to protect Russian interests on their own doorstep.

    I'm also concerned about these new rockets in Poland, which most Russians and many Western analysts think are primarily aimed at Russia, giving the United States a possible first-strike capability. If I were in the Russian leadership I wonder how I would react to this base?

    Then there's the problem with the Ukraine. This may well be the next trouble-spot. The Crimea was only 'gifted' to the Ukraine after WW2 and contains the Sebastopol naval base. Having distant family in the region I know that they aren't exactly enamoured with the regime in Kiev which they believe gained power in a faux 'revolution', orange wasn't it, organized and financed from the West. From my own perspective the Ukraine looks like a state being fought over by rival Mafia clans, and I don't have time for any of them. Voting for them would be like having to choose between the plague or cholera.

    What also concerns me is how the United Nations has become more or less irrelevant. Where were they during the crisis in Georgia? What's the name of the current General Secretary? Is this merely a coincidence?

    Talking to people in the part of Ukraine I visited was interesting. They thought that Russia was no on the right track and had bright future, if it could avoid a confrontation with the West. All it would have to do was sit back, adopt a defensive posture, see the oil and gas money role in, and it would inexorably become richer and more powerful relative to the Western powers, especially the United States. One guy, even said that he believed the long age of Western global dominance was coming to an end. China, Russia, India and Brazil were coming world powers, and the West had just better get used to the new realities of the twenty-first century!

    However, this scenario clashes directly with the neo-con plans for a new American century, which sees a unipolar world with the United States the undisputed, all-powerful, leading nation.

Comments are closed.