Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Georgia, South Ossetia, Russia, US Crisis—Another Point of View

The question is: why would Georgia's president Saakashvili invade a sworn enemy, which has a Russian peace keeping force stationed there to defend Ossetia's autonomy? It would appear to be a suicide mission.

Likely reasons: Either Saakashvili was totally deluded, and/or he gambled that Russia would not stand behind their word to the Ossetians, and/or he believed that the U.S. would support him and Georgia in a war against S. Ossetia and possibly Russia.
These are the words of Sharon Tennison, friend of a good friend of mine. They have spent time together in Russia. My friend introduced me to Sharon’s website
“Russia: Other Points of View.” She is the founder and president of the Center for Citizen Initiatives, who explains her group this way:
We, the Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI) began the first steps of our work as independent American investigative citizens who didn't expect to found an organization. We traveled to the USSR to meet the enemy face to face in 1983, to educate ourselves. The Cold War was in full force. The Korean airliner 007 has just been shot down by Soviet MIGs. Traveling around in the Soviet Union, we experienced a system that was deplorable, but a people who were obviously good human beings and actually more similar to ourselves than we ever would have expected. This began the saga of trying to comprehend the differences between the two mindsets, expectations, and values of the two superpowers.
On Wednesday after returning to the U.S. from Russia, Sharon posted, “The Georgia/South Ossetia/Russia/US Crisis.” I found it worth reading, a good reality check on what we are hearing from the Bush administration and from much of our press.

Undeniable Facts Regarding The Georgian/S. Ossetian/Russian Crisis:

* Georgia made an unprovoked military attack on S. Ossetia on August 7 - a fact which is virtually ignored by U.S. media - most reference it as the "invasion by Russia into Georgian territory." This tells us something. Why is the invading country not faulted? Bush/Rice have castigated Russia for a "disproportionate" response. Can you think of a response to any invasion which has been "proportionate"?

* Russia counter attacked on August 8 after 1400 civilians and Russian peace keepers were killed. The capital city was in shambles, with refugees streaming toward Russia to seek refuge.

* Since Georgia became a free state in 1991, S. Ossetia has had de facto independence and has operated as an autonomous area. The media reports as though these facts don't matter.

* Josef Stalin drew the dividing lines between the two Ossetian communities and placed half of the Ossetians in Georgia, and the other half in Russia. It made no sense. What need is there today to honor Stalin's whim about carving up ethnic groups.

* Ossetians are a totally different ethnic group, they are not Georgian. Many Ossetians are Russians - and many hold Russian passports.

* Ossetians despise and distrust Georgians and want nothing to do with them.

* The South Ossetians fought a vicious war with Georgia in 1991-93 after first Georgian President Gamsakhurdia, a rabid nationalist, stripped them of their autonomy and sent militia in to establish Georgian dominance. The Ossetians finally won and since then have governed themselves.

* Russia to date has insured their autonomy for which South Ossetians are grateful.

* Russia has kept a "peace force" in Ossetia for years which was originally approved by Georgia, the US and others, to keep peace in this micro-region where tempers flare frequently.

* Ossetia's autonomy was approved in 1993 by presidents Yeltsin and Shevardnadze, the then head of state of Georgia. Nothing about this fact has changed since.

* There has been continuous low-level sniping and firing between both Ossetian and Georgian villagers for decades.

* It would be impossible for Georgia to manage a successful takeover of the Ossetians. They would have to raze Ossetia to the ground to beat them into submission.

* U.S. and Israeli military have been stationed in Georgia, providing military hardware and training Georgians in battlefield tactics for some time now.

Despite US media coverage, this situation is not about a "big bad nation" (Russia) beating up on an "innocent little nation" (Georgia). Georgia initiated this all-out war, which they and US advisors could have predicted would turn ugly in a hurry.
Go to the website to see her narrative about the meaning of these facts. She will give you pause in the “news” we have been seeing and hearing. She doesn’t pretend it to be the only perspective on the matter. I assume that’s why they call their website, “Russia: Other Points of View.” I think she makes sense. What about you?

- Milo

1 comment:

Mona Abbott said...
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