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.