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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Georgian blowup « Previous | |Next »
August 14, 2008

It is clear that the crisis in the Southern Caucasus that has arisen from Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia is caught up in the strategic conflict between the US and Russia in the post Cold War era that undercuts the spin about the Russian bear bullying democratic Georgia. That spin downplays the history of the region, Georgian provocation in recovering lost territory, Russian national interests and an anti-Russian media bubble.

M K Bhadrakumar in Asia Times Online says:

Georgia and the southern Caucasus constitute a critically important region for the US since it straddles a busy transportation route for energy - like the Indian Ocean or the Persian Gulf. It can be used as a choke point. Simply put, keeping it under control as a sphere of influence is highly advantageous for the pursuit of US geopolitical interests in the Eurasian region. A rollback of Russian influence therefore becomes a desirable objective. The geopolitics of energy lies at the core of the conflict in the Caucasus.

Bhadrakumar says the US has suffered a series of major reverses in the past two years in the great game over Caspian energy.

Bhadrakumar says:

Moscow's success in getting Turkmenistan to virtually commit its entire gas production to Russian energy giant Gazprom for export has been a stunning blow to US energy diplomacy. Similarly, the US has failed to get Kazakhstan to jettison its close ties with Russia, especially the arrangement to route its oil exports primarily through Russian pipelines.

Ghia Nodia in Open Democracy says that Russia is making a preventive strike against Nato, which happens to take place on Georgian territory. Moscow wants to teach Georgia a lesson for Tbilisi's open and defiant wish to become part of the west; it wants to send a message to the United States and Europe that it will not tolerate further encroachment on its zone of influence; and it wants to make clear to other countries in its neighbourhood (Ukraine first of all) that they are in Russia's backyard and should behave accordingly.
Thus, on the global scale, this war poses serious questions to the west and to Georgia: for the west, whether it will accept its strategic retreat vis-à-vis Russia, and concede that the former Soviet Union is a territory where Russia can effectively dominate without formally restoring its erstwhile empire; for Georgia, whether it retains de facto sovereignty and effective statehood. The Russian calculation appears to be that Georgia will descend into chaos as its people express anger at their government for starting a wrong war and wrongly relying on the west, leaving Georgians with but one option: to embrace a new government that will be formally independent but effectively a Russian satellite.

So much for the end of nationalism that would happen as the whole world gets online and starts clicking.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:00 AM | | Comments (4)


Washington's Republicans seems to have assumed that Russia would passively accept Georgia being drawn into its orbit and becoming a full NATO member. It is an odd assumption given Russia's hostility to NATO enlargement that openly encouraging the governments of former Soviet satellites to seek membership; and Washington's policy to base US Interceptor missiles and radar stations on the territory of the former Soviet satellites in return for military aid and promises of US support in their bids to secure NATO membership.

Russia is a European power concerned about its national security and sphere of influence and it has the military and economic power to defend its strategic interests.

The Bush Republicans have seen Russia as a strategic rival and threat that needed to be kept in its regional box and prevented from becoming a superpower.

The timing has been good hasn't it. Georgia is doing well too...
The two best things I've seen in the media recently on the subject have been Foreign Correspondent the other night and the Russian Foreign Minister who said the US have to choose between "a virtual project and a real relationship."
He also said that Ukraine weren't observing basic diplomatic niceties.

US behaviour must be really starting to worry Western European countries. The Polish have agreed to have the US interceptors sited in their country, a move that has enraged Moscow. The Georgian situation is an escalation, no more Mr Niceguy from the Russians, actions speak louder than words. The US is going to look very foolish if they don't make a concrete response, all the aid flights do is draw attention to their lack of ability to confront the Russians on the same terms. I'd say that US ambitions of a ring of NATO allies or at least pro-Western satellites ringing Russia are going to take a hiding over the next few years as Europe realises what the stakes are in this particular US gamble. Remember the US is not contiguous with Europe :-)