TROUBLE IN THE CAUCASUS: “In a move which has put it squarely on a collision course with Putinâ€™s Russia, Georgian troops continuing their campaign against South Ossetian separatists are reported by the BBC to be nearing Tskhinvali. . . . Moscowâ€™s support for South Ossetian separatism, in part a reaction to Georgiaâ€™s efforts to get closer to the West potentially puts Russia and NATO on a collision course.”
UPDATE: Reader Michael Cecire emails:
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Georgia, I can tell you with certainty that the ongoing hostilities in Georgia is neither anomalous nor a case of ‘Georgian impertinence,’ as many in the media will certainly imply in their coverage and comment. As one of the Bush administration’s foreign policy success stories, and a resolute American ally, its efficacy is obviously always under the most unfair sort of scrutiny. This is a curious but unmistakable worldwide pattern – see Israel, Taiwan, Moldova, Kosovo, etc.
And to be clear, Georgia is now being invaded by a country that has been pushing, provoking, and violating the sovereignty of many of its neighbors for centuries. As for Georgia, Russia’s posture has been decidedly hostile since Georgia’s “ungrateful” secessions – first in 1991 and again in 2003’s Rose Revolution which aligned Georgia with the West – with Russia responding over the years with a series of embargoes, blockades, and gratuitous support for separatists in violation of internationally recognized borders.
President Saakashvili is absolutely correct when he says that the current conflict is hardly about separatism; rather, the root of the issue is Russia’s obstinate unwillingness to concede the sovereignty of its former satellites and imperial provinces. This situation, in reality, is hardly more than blatant Russian aggression against a small, Westernizing democracy flailing to extract itself from its suffocating geographic and historical proximity to Russia in all its forms – tsarist, Soviet, and currently oligopo-fascist.