Sunday, August 10, 2008

Georgia on My Mind



Russia has escalated skirmishes into all out war launching aerial attacks against Gori, a major Georgian city about 50 miles from the capital of Tbilisi. Tanks from the separatist region of South Ossetia have moved deep into Georgian territory while Russian naval forces are assembling in the Black Sea claiming to have sunk a Georgian missile ship.

For more details on the specifics, see the following A/P release courtesy of Fox News:,3566,401043,00.html

This conflict is very serious. Georgia is strategically located on the northeast shore of the Black Sea with most of its southern boundary Turkey and northern boundary, Russia, running through the Caucasus mountains. Georgia is a very pro-western former Soviet republic that is the third largest contributor of troops to the Iraqi war effort behind the United Kingdom and USA. They have sought NATO membership. The Georgian government exercises virtually no control over two northern territories along the mountains, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Parts of the northern boundary between Russia and Georgia are disputed. Further, Russian troops have been stationed in this region as "peace keepers." The ethnicity of Georgia: 83.8% Georgian, Azeri 6.5%, Armenian 5.7%, Russian 1.5%, other 2.5% (Source: CIA World Factbook, 2008) The overall population of Georgia is about the same as Alabama at 4.6 million. Geographically, it is slightly smaller than South Carolina.

Conditions in border territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been simmering since the formation of the Georgian state in 1991. Recently, the Georgian government has attempted to reassert its authority over these areas clearly within their boundaries. Russia, essentially with Vladimir Putin clearly pulling the strings, asserts Russia's involvement is humanitarian as the Russian government is pledged to look out for its citizens whether they are in Russia or any place else in the world. Clearly, Putin as Prime Minister is exerting more power than President Dmitri Medvedev. Since Putin was first elected to power, not only has he eliminated many of the Democratic freedoms Russians were starting to enjoy with the fall of communism but has also become involved in a variety of actions to destablize former Soviet republics imposing more and more Russian influence in all aspects of the fledgling nations attempt to join the world community particularly when they show pro-Western sympathies.

Students of European history will be particularly concerned about Russia's invasion of Georgia. The stated justification of looking out for the Russians who reside within the disputed territories reminds us of events which lead directly to World War II. As Adolf Hitler began his initial push to unite Germanic people, the first move was German/Austrian unification, the Anschluss. The next move was to annex the Sudetenland, an area of Czechoslovakia populated largely by Germans who Hitler contended were being oppressed by the Czechoslovakian government in their northern and western territories. Seeking to avoid further conflicts and hoping diplomatic efforts would contain Hitler's increasingly expansionistic behavior, the governments of France and United Kingdom allowed Hitler to annex the Sudetenland. British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain went on record that Hitler's grievances on the behalf of the Sudeten population was just. On September 28, the Munich Agreement was struck between the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy with the Czechoslovakian government agreeing to concede its territory. Meanwhile, Hitler started grumbling about the same accomodations would be appropriate for German people living in Poland and Hungary. The Anglo-Franco appeasement which lead to Neville Chamberlain's infamous comment, "We Have Peace in Our Time,' gave Hitler the breathing space to continue his agression first within stretching the limits of diplomatic accords with the Allies, but later unshackled and uninhibited as central Europe promptly fell to Nazi control as World War Two became inevitable reaching the point of no return when the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.

The parallels between the current situation in Georgia and the Czechoslovakian realties of 1938 are chillingly similar. Germany was initially trying to restore Germany to the German nation that had formed from the days of Bismarck and the treaty of Versailles. Putin's intentions for Russia are becoming increasingly supportive of a desire to become a Soviet style super power dragging the liberated republics back into Mother Russia. Putin has also engaged in tremendous saber rattling as former Eastern European nations have joined NATO and the European union including threats of military action should part of the United States anti-nuclear defense system include radar in Poland.

Russia is not a friend of the United States. They are using their resources, oil and natural gas, to threaten other countries including Germany not to agitate Russia on the world political stage. They have sold anti-air defenses to Iran and weapons to Venezuela. While it might be desirable from a diplomatic foreign relations standpoint to maintain the public persona of friendship, Putin's actions are increasingly becoming more and more Cold War like. However, there are dangers that never could have existed under Soviet control. The Russian government is unable to account for the huge inventory of Soviet nuclear weapons. The Russian economy is out of control largely in the hands of vicious criminal organizations who spread their corruption and evil worldwide. While minute compared to Islamic terrorist groups, the Russian Mafia is a worldwide confederacy of thugs prone to cause mayhem in pursuit of their goals.

Where the current crisis in Georgia leads is hard to tell. This is no little tussle halfway around the world. This is a world crisis of the highest order.

The United States and its allies especially in Europe and Turkey must monitor this situation and be prepared to aid Georgia as best as possible.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev, don't let the Olympics, rising fuel costs, the Presidential election in the US or the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy marrying world class super babe, Carla Bruni, love interest of Mick Jagger and allegedly Donald Trump and Eric Clapton among others, fool you. No matter what's going on around here, THE WORLD IS WATCHING.

No comments: