Monday, August 11, 2008

Caught Sleeping in Tbilisi

Among the fall-out of the ongoing conflagration in the Caucasus might well be the materialization of Robert Kagan's thesis posited in his last book, "The Return of History and the End of Dreams," or the return of autocracy and old-fashioned power politics, which marks an end to the Utopian approach to transnational diplomacy (book reviewed in "The Newest World Order").

The tome is a sequence to "Of Paradise and Power," an essay that dealt with the world order that emerged from the early post Cold War period. It was characterized by the tension between the European model of bottomless diplomacy and global peace through interdependence versus the American geopolitical approach, calculated to deal with a more Hobbesian view of a world in chaos. (Something along the theme of 'Europeans are from Venus and Americans are from Mars.')

The Russian performance in the recent days in Georgia generally proves the correctness of American realism. Natural law is constant and human genes (or any other for that matter) do not evolve in ways that enable the species to propel to a higher level of moral order (the Materialist imagination in that respect is an endless source of inspiration for Hollywood SF productions). Pacifism and appeasement may do something beautiful towards the Left's feel-good factor, but on the other hand it tolerates, aids and abets evil.

Although Hume's law - confusing is with ought - is a central Postmodern mechanism for dodging reality, the recent cataclysm in the Caucasus shows how dangerous a place planet Earth can be if we don't stop whimsical interventions given in by emotion, that is more often than not just tacky sentimentalism on the part of public opinion, played on by a biased media.

Rewarding claims for independence on the basis of demographic dominance does not help towards ethic engineering, genocide, ethnic cleansing or other means of creating 'facts on the ground'. Thus invited, irredentism might well pop up soon in an area near you.

Neither intervention nor cessation are alternatives to a healthy respect for borders, an nation's untouchable sovereignty, and sacred territorial integrity. The tranzies aren't solving problems (that to a large extent are inherited from the past), their relentless assaults on autonomous states are instead creating new problems for the future.

The picture which emerges from the fog of war in Georgia is as banal as it is hazardous: emotional subjectivism firing old-world lust for power and vengeance (unexploded ordinance was found in Georgia, addressed to NATO). This is possible because in diplomacy, as is the case in other areas, objective standards are purposely being dropped in favor of a relativist world view in which everyone is right from his or her perspective.

This Russia Today video dating back five months is indicative in more ways than one. Not only does it prove the enormity of the Kosovo blunder flung back in our faces, it is also illustrative of today's subjectivism - indeed, the random whim - when the footage turns to EU representative Peter Semneby who rejects similarities between the two cases because ... "each conflict has its unique, specific character;" therefore no attention should be paid to the parallels, that moreover should not be over-emphasized ... to which the Russia Today narrator sarcastically adds that "indeed the case is certainly different from Kosovo, because unlike Kosovo, South Ossetia and Abkhazia have no support from the EU and the US.

The Russian action sends jitters bordering panic through the countries of the new Europe. Black Five's "The Devil Went To Georgia" links to this article in which the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia issue a joint statement condemning Russia and its hegemonic games.

Another post relays an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski who draws a few parallels of his own:

- Caption: Tskhinvali, South Ossetia (1886) -

"Fundamentally at stake is what kind of role Russia will play in the new international system. Unfortunately, Putin is putting Russia on a course that is ominously similar to Stalin's and Hitler's in the late 1930s. Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has correctly drawn an analogy between Putin's "justification" for dismembering Georgia -- because of the Russians in South Ossetia -- to Hitler's tactics vis a vis Czechoslovakia to "free" the Sudeten Deutsch.

Even more ominous is the analogy of what Putin is doing vis-a-vis Georgia to what Stalin did vis-a-vis Finland: subverting by use of force the sovereignty of a small democratic neighbor. In effect, morally and strategically, Georgia is the Finland of our day.

The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin's control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia. In brief, the stakes are very significant. (...) Read it all >>>

Clearly the West's interventions in the former Yugoslavia are the Russians' frame of reference. Interviews with Russian representatives are laced with allusions to the Kosovo war and the Western push for its independence. On Monday on CNN we see the Russian Dept. Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov openly comparing the Russian assault on Poti with the NATO's bombardment of Belgrade, repeated not three hours later by the Chairman of the International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev MP. (EUX.TV even calls it the Russian "hymn sheet").

Evidently, things do not compute. The Black Five post anticipates the slowly galvanizing opinion in circles of the European Left in observing that ... "For those that are still fixated on the idea that Georgia started this and Russia simply responded, answer me how what appears to be multiple combined-arms groups just happened to be able to respond so quickly, including the sortie of parts of the Black Sea fleet? It takes a lot of time, planning, and even movement and stockpiling of logistics to make that happen. The troubling question raised is how was it missed by -- apparently -- so many?"

Russia's newly acquired sensitivities concerning the humanitarian situation in the breakaway territories along with accusations of genocide and ethic cleansing throw back into the West's face their own novel pretexts for violent intervention in the former Yugoslavia. In geopolitical terms this is the logical blow-back from the West's bombing of Belgrade and Kosovo's independence (for as long as it isn't integrated in Greater Albania).

- Caption: Fresco in Ishkhani or Manglisi Church (11th century) -

Front Page: "Cold War II?" writes: "Now in retaliation, Russia sees the opportunity to inflict the same fate on America’s Caucasian ally. It reasons that if Serbia is divisible, then so is Georgia. Like the Albanians in Kosovo, the Abkhazians and South Ossetians should have the right to secede if they do not want to remain part of Georgia. And they don’t. As proof, many people in these two rebellious areas, as many as 90 per cent according to one report, have taken Russian citizenship" ... a clear case of demographic engineering.

During a press meeting in Moscow this afternoon French President Nicolas Sarkozy, when asked if replacing the Russian peace-keepers in the two separatist territories in Georgia with neutral, international troops might help the situation, Russia's President Medvedev rejected the notion categorically. Indeed how else can the traditional machinations be applied? "Russian Imperialism - It's Back":

"In Transnistria, a secessionist area of Moldova, Russian “peacekeepers” have kept the local gang of unreconstructed Stalinist smugglers since the early 1990s, and in Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian territory, it is the same “peacekeepers” and mercenaries who have ethnically cleansed the Georgian majority and annexed the area. The pattern has been the same in Abkhazia and South Ossetia – Russia has unilaterally granted citizenship to the secessionists and then, when Georgia has tried to recover its territorial integrity, claimed that it has the right, and duty, to defend its “citizens” - a claim repeated on August 8 by President Dmitry Medvedev, and reminiscent of the old Soviet “struggle for peace” in places like Afghanistan."

More information on the following links:

- Wall Street Journal: "The War in Georgia Is a War for the West," by Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili

- Financial Times: "
Saakashvili says Moscow wants to oust him" - includes an interesting video commentary by the International Affairs Editor

- Here's Black Five's Georgia blogroll:

Baltic Times
The Messenger
Scraps of Moscow
All About Latvia
Lex Libertas
foreign notes
Yezhednevny zhurnal
Global Voices
The 8th Circl
A Fistful of Euros
Nosemonkey's EUtopia
Wu Wei

- Times Online archive Sept. 26, 1924: "The Revolt in Georgia - A General Rising"

- The file on Kosovo and Bosnia: "The Balkan Caliphate"

- History and culture of Georgia

- Filed on Articles in "Caucasian Heat" -


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