4fooey

August 15, 2008

Power games

Filed under: Politics/News — Tags: , , , — 4fooey @ 10:03 am

A week ago a conflict broke out in Georgia over the disputed area of South Ossetia. It seems that Georgian forces tried to take back control of this area, and the Russians’ response was swift and brutal. Following the initial conflict, Western powers, mainly USA, France, and other European countries have cast the Russians as the aggressor, and Georgia the innocent victim. The news has been full of stories of Russian aggression, the coverage in the UK/Western has been noticely biased against the Russians, while the coverage in the Russian media has been ludicrously biased in favour of Russia & Putin — it’s quite clear bad things have been going on on both sides. Writing in the New Statesman, Misha Glenny has an interesting analysis of the situation and its background. Read it here: Superpower swoop.

I have looked on at this conflict with shock and amazement: it appears that the old cold-war adversaries, the US and Russia, are playing out their grievances in Georgia, and as usual innocent people, in this case Georgians and Russians, are suffering with large-scale death and destruction. There are many forces at work: Russia asserting itself in the Caucasus; the USA and NATO are trying to assert their will on the region; and the result will be that South Ossetia and Abkhazia will end up in Russian hands (which was probably their aim). There are quite significant commercial factors at play as well including the control of energy supplies (gas and oil), and control of Black sea ports.

The most amazing thing has been President Bush’s lecturing Russia about “invading a sovereign nation” — what hypocrisy! Has he forgotten Iraq — the US invaded Iraq without provacation or justification. The US were very swift to denounce Russia, threatening all kinds of retaliation — the most they could really manage would be to freeze relations with Russia and try to push them out of various world organisations. The postering, mostly on the part of the USA, has been ridiculous and has served to ramp up the conflict, making it a potentially very dangerous situation — imagine what could happen if a Russian takes a shot at the Americans delivering aid?

But in these troubling times (climate change, financial crisis, shaky food/energy security, the need for global development) the big powers need to work together. The power games they are playing over Georgia are pathetic, show a lack of leadership, and ultimately will damage us all.

(Update: Germany has remained strangely silent, until now: today I have read that Merkel is being more rational about the conflict saying that blame is on both sides, which of course is correct — read it here in the Guardian: Moscow warns it could strike Poland over US missile shield).

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1 Comment »

  1. Bush has no moral authority at all – I think most people recognise this – and Medvedev is under the thumb of Putin, who behaves as though he’s still in the KGB. It’s all about their mindset, which was fixed during the Cold War. That won’t change until the old fools die off, but there’s too much as stake for them to take things much further than posturing. They can’t see how ridiculous they look.

    Comment by Margaret — September 2, 2008 @ 7:04 am


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