Monday, August 11, 2008

If Not Now, When?

Perhaps the President of Georgia miscalculated in his decision to launch an assault on breakaway regions at the time and in the manner he did. But President Saakashvili has just as much a right to attempt to - by military action - reclaim for Georgia the regions of South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) as past Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin possessed to reclaim rebellious Chechnya, by force, for the Russian Federation. Russia, however, has no similar rights in South Ossetia or Abkhazia. Under the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the situation was different. Nowadays, when Russia meddles in the Caucasus, it does so as a foreign entity.

In granting to some residents of Georgia's separatist regions citizenship and/or de facto recognition, Russia violated the sovereignty of the republic of Georgia, and should Moscow continue its military campaign against the Georgians - who, again, have every right to exert their governmental authority over the lands in question - this would represent a further unacceptable violation of Georgian sovereignty.

Have we even begun to contemplate the consequences of the West doing nothing? The United States, amongst other countries and organizations - including NATO - have declared their support for the territorial integrity of Georgia. Will such proclamations, in time, be shown to have been nothing more than a retread of similar statements prior to the Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s? No, I am not saying that Russia today is as evil as Nazi Germany once was. I am, however, noting that despite the differences between the two polities, one modern, the other extinct, they share a trait in that their vision of the world stands in stark contrast to the vision of those who wish for democratic order and peaceful relationships between nations.

Nazi Germany once was, and the Russian Federation today appears to be, an agent of controlled chaos.

Shall Russia's aggression remain unchecked? It should be obvious to us, now, that tiny Georgia cannot hold off the Bear on its own. And, we should keep things in a moral perspective: However mistaken President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia might have been in trying to fulfill one of his campaign promises (imagine that, a politician trying to keep promises to the electorate!) - the reconquest of rebel regions - it has not been Georgian planes bombing the Russian capital...but Russian planes have bombed Tblisi, the Georgian capital. And to what end? For what purpose? Georgia wasn't trying to reclaim Russian soil for Georgia. Georgia was trying to reclaim Georgian soil for Georgia.

What would it say to our allies, if we, the United States, did nothing more for Georgia than help fly Georgian troops home from Iraq, so they might participate in the defense of their homeland?

Whatever might be done by the West, what nevertheless should be done is that the Russians should be reminded that the Free World, armed and ready, views with intense dismay any attempts to forcibly reunite former Soviet republics once more under the iron fist of Moscow, either by swallowing them up whole or simply by toppling their governments and installing friendly puppet ones. Let us not forget, Russia's envoy at the United Nations in New York City, regarding the situation in the Caucasus, stated that there are occasions when popularly, democratically elected leaders (in reference to Georgia's Saakashvili) "become an obstacle".

Forgive me for taking offense, for becoming alarmed, at such a statement, as in my view, such words are hardly conducive to international stability, or constructive of positive ends.

Like it or not, believe it or not, there are still governments in existence on the face of this planet committed to sowing disorder and reaping the benefits, at the expense of the personal liberties and national sovereignty of free peoples. While I don't mean to sound alarmist, Russia's blatant disrespect for Georgian sovereignty represents a threat to American sovereignty; indeed, it represents a threat to the very principle and idea of sovereignty and the right of a democratic government to exercise it over the lands the vast majority of the international community recognizes as being under that government's domain.

Should Moscow have its way militarily in Georgia, of all times during an Olympic Games being held in an authoritarian country, we stand to lose much more than just face amongst our friends. We'll lose it against our foes, those agents of controlled chaos. And we'll pay a high price. Maybe not now. But mark my words, we will. The dominoes are stacked up again. If Georgia falls, Ukraine could be next. Are we really willing to wait to sit around and watch that happen? I hope not.

God, I hope not.

1 comment:

Helena said...

Jer,

thanks for the blog, i was wondering when you would give me some of the world news. If it weren't for you i'd be clueless as always.

miss ya,

helena