"Should this turn into a proxy
war between 'East' and 'West,' it will mean a global confrontation … Moscow and
Washington both have the power to bring the warring parties to heel - but both
refuse to give an inch, and by hesitating as well as ramping up the rhetoric,
they only fuel the flames."
There is no
Olympic peace to be had, certainly not in the Caucasus. The
constantly-increasing gunfire over the past week is about to escalate into an
all-out war, and it's hard to imagine that it will remain limited to the
Republic of Georgia and its renegade province of South Ossetia. Georgian troops
have advanced into the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. Abkhazia, the
other secessionist region, has announced that it will send volunteers to
support South Ossetia: which means the threat of a two-front war on Georgian
In the Olympic
City of Beijing, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke of forceful
countermeasures and President Dmitry Medvedev examined Russia's options in
this, the first crisis of his tenure. Meanwhile, Georgia’s head of state
Mikheil Saakashvili mobilized all of his reserve forces. This is now more than
a limited confrontation within the borders of what maps call Georgia. This is
government has international law on its side: the separation of the two regions
and their declarations of independence haven't been recognized by any other
nation. From this, President Saakashvili infers that any military action to
re-establish national unity is legitimate. So far, so good. But the fact that
he was still talking of a ceasefire on Thursday while his military advance
toward Tskhinvali was well underway - things like this take planning, they
don’t just happen - doesn't identify him as the most honest politician in the
REPORT: 'FIVE DAYS THE SHOCKED THE WORLD'
The leaders of
these separatist regions, however, invoke the right to self-determination of
peoples and the desire to preserve their cultural autonomy without it being
limited by the Georgian state. They can also cite historical reasons, such as
Russian imperialism in the 19th and Soviet repression in the 20th century, whose
proxies in the south were the same Tbilisi gentlemen whose game is now to drive
the Saakashvili government to use its arsenal of weapons. For two centuries,
Ossetia has been divided into a larger northern part under Russian
administration, and a smaller southern district under Georgian rule. A
unification of the two will only be possible if the state borders in the
Caucasus are re-drawn.
justification for war, the consequences of which would destroy the very basis
of life for the peoples embroiled in it, cannot be derived from this. For the
central actors as well as those in the background, this isn't about the peoples
of the Caucasus, their age-old traditions or their current plight. There are
entirely other interests - interests that mitigate against a peaceful solution.
Russia has time and again used Abkhazia and South Ossetia- and not without a healthy dose of cynicism
- to exert pressure on Tbilisi. At the same time, the Saakashvili Government,
more than any of its predecessors, has vigorously pushed toward aligning itself
with NATO, the E.U. and ultimately the United States.
threat, that if Kosovo became independent Russia
wouldn’t stand back from Abkhazia and South Ossetia with a smile - is still on
everyone’s mind. What from the point of view of the Kremlin is part of
Washington's plan to encircle Russia is from Georgia's perspective an essential
guarantee of its sovereignty.
That is why the
Georgian war poses a danger that reaches far beyond the region. Should this
turn into a proxy war between “East” and “West,” it will mean a global
confrontation. For Europe this would have serious consequences that are mainly
economic in nature, the key words being oil and natural gas. Russia would face
isolation, which would lead to a surge in the already-energetic nationalistic
forces in the country, and in turn lead to more confrontational policies.
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
WITH GEORGIA PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILLI, AUG. 13
The U.N. is
failing to live up to its desired role as peacemaker; unity in the U.N.
Security Council will fail due to the veto power of both the United States and
Russia. The Council may admonish and lament. Under the circumstances, U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s call to respect the Olympic peace is
well-meaning. Nothing more. Moscow and Washington both have the power to bring
the warring parties to heel - but both refuse to give an inch, and by
hesitating as well as ramping up the rhetoric, they only fuel the flames.
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