10 August 2008South Ossetia and WWIII |
The United States needs to keep its nose out of the current conflict between Russia and Georgia
By: Matt Fay
“If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans”
- Otto von Bismarck
And it was some “damned silly thing in the Balkans” – the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – that brought about World War I. Now, with conflict finally breaking out between Russia and Georgia, over Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia, it will remain to be seen if World War III begins because of some “damned silly thing in Caucuses.”
I am sure that there are probably a few people scratching their heads right now, wondering “Where is South Ossetia?”; “What are the Caucuses?”; and “Isn’t Georgia right next to Florida?”
So, very quickly:
1). Georgia was a part of the former Soviet Union. It was the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. It is now an independent, and supposedly democratic, nationled by a President named Mikhail Saakashvili. President Bush, supported by both presidential candidates, has pushed for Georgia’s membership into NATO – meaning that when Georgia goes to war, the United States goes to war.
2). South Ossetia is a province, along with Ahbakzia, that declared its independence from Georgia in the early 1990s. While neither province has been recognized by the international community, both have received support from Russia – including Russian troops as “peacekeepers” in South Ossetia. Saakashvili has vowed to bring the wayward provinces back under Georgian control.
3). The Caucuses are a mountain range in Asia that border the Black Sea and provide a natural barrier between Russia and Georgia. If that isn’t enough, I suggest buying an atlas.
The American mainstream media is portraying the current conflict as an act of aggression by Russia. Some have portrayed this, with no supporting evidence, as an attempt by Russia to reestablish the Soviet Empire – CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer even went so far as to display a map labeled “U.S.S.R.”
As with most claims made by the media, there is little evidence to back up this assertion. Tensions have been building for years between Russia and Georgia – with the attempts by the U.S. to bring Georgia into NATO only adding fuel to the fire. It is still unclear as to who fired the first shot. Though Saakashvili did admit, in an interview with CNN, that the timing of the conflict did have something to do with the fact that much of the world’s attention was diverted by the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing. “Most decision makers have gone for the holiday,” he said “Brilliant moment to attack a small country.”
The response from the American political establishment was fairly predictable. According to the Associated Press, “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rica called on Russia, Friday, to halt all attacks in South Ossetia, after Georgian troops entered the breakaway province in an attempt to crush separatist forces seeking control.”
John McCain’s campaign released a statement saying “Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory.” This is, of course, the same John McCain who has said that he doesn’t care if the U.S. violates Iraq’s sovereignty up to ten thousand years.
At the same time, Barack Obama’s campaign concurred, saying that “Georgia’s territorial integrity must respected.” The statement from Obama’s campaign did not seem hit home, considering that, nearly one year ago, he said that he would be willing to violate Pakistan’s territorial integrity if “actionable intelligence” demonstrated an opportunity to strike at Al Qaeda’s leadership.
None of these statements appears to be the least bit ironic to the political establishment of a nation that has stationed military personnel in over 130 countries, occupies two countries at this very moment – citing said countries “liberation” and “right to self-determination” as justification, and claims the right – articulated in its own National Security Strategy – to invade any country on the planet if it feels that it may someday become a threat to its security.
Why should America care?
Once anyone, or at least anyone who would actually take the time to figure where the Caucuses are, decided that this is a topic worth looking at; they might also ask why they should care.
Unfortunately for Americans, they do need to care greatly about what happens in South Ossetia.
According to The Weekly Standard, this conflict could have been avoided had America’s European, NATO allies not indulged in “Chamberlain-esque conflict aversion.” From this analysis, it can be ascertained, that Georgia’s entry into NATO would have deterred Russia from “aggressively” attempting to seize South Ossetia from Georgia. Georgia’s entry into NATO would have meant a “war guarantee” from the United States – whose troops are already spread too thin dealing with insurgencies in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and wouldn’t have enough ground troops in reserve to take on the “Russian Bear.”
According to Gordon Chang, writing on Commentary magazine’s blog, Russia’s actions are now equivalent to Hitler’s taking of the Rhineland from France and move into Czechlslovakia’s Sudetenland. Chang writes, “Russia has committed an act of aggression. The West has to force the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops. By now, we know what happens when aggressors are allowed to run free.”
In truth, though, there is no legitimate American interest in South Ossetia – let alone Gerogia (other than the Georgia that borders Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina).
As the Soviet Union disintegrated in the early 1990s, President George H.W. Bush made promises that said NATO – an alliance that was formed strictly to protect Western Europe from the possibility of a Soviet invasion – would not be expanded eastward. During the last seventeen years, during the administrations of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, NATO has been continuously expanded – moving itself directly against Russia’s eastern border.
Outside of poking a stick in the “Russian Bear’s” eye, there is really little reason for the U.S. to be involved in such a dispute. Of course, this has never stopped the American political establishment from involving itself in issues such as this before.
Is Russia attempting to reestablish the Soviet Empire? Are Vladimir Putin and the “Might Midget” Demitry Medvedev truly displaying Hitlerian aggression?
Should the United States, or any other world power, being willing to risk World War III over a dispute between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia?
We should all hope not.
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