Georgia Just Woke Up A Sleeping Bear


War, it seems, has erupted in the small country of Georgia against its much larger and very angry neighbor, Russia. This small former Russian territory could be in a fight for its very life. Georgia, if you don't remember was the first territory to break away from the former Soviet Union on April 19th, 1991. This conflict is nothing new and the same players were involved as far back as 1995.

In 1995, Shevardnadze was officially elected as a president of Georgia. At the same time, two regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, quickly became embroiled in disputes with local separatists that led to widespread inter-ethnic violence and wars. Supported by Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia achieved de facto independence from Georgia. More than 250,000 Georgians were ethnically cleansed from Abkhazia by Abkhaz separatists and North Caucasians volunteers (including Chechens) in 1992-1993. [1]
Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia, is a staunch ally of the West and especially the United States. He was pressing for his tiny country to be entered into NATO, but this was blocked by Berlin, more than likely due to fears of Russian reprisals and anger. Georgia also has about 2,000 troops in Iraq, the third largest contingent of forces behind Britain and the U.S.

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili has a different agenda - he won election in 2004 on promise to recover the breakaway territories (i.e. South Ossetia and Abkhazia), and to join NATO. [2]

Mr. Saakashvili made good on his campaign promise and on Friday launched a full scale military operation, taking control of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. Although, successful, the celebration did not last very long.
GORI, Georgia — The conflict between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia moved toward full-scale war on Saturday, as Russia sent warships to land ground troops in the disputed territory of Abkhazia and broadened its bombing campaign across Georgia.[3]
The Georgian government has been antagonized by the Russians for years now and finally took the bait hook line and sinker. In response to this "open rebellion" Russia has taken a few steps to position themselves for military action against Georgia. The Russians have had a long standing economic embargo against the Georgians for years, a military presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, provided financial assistance to the secessionist states, and given Russian passports to their citizens. Strategically the Russians have felt compelled to react to the threat of western encirclement. If Georgia would have been allowed to strengthen its ties with the West by becoming a member of NATO it would have been Serbia all over again. The Russians were clever, in their own fashion, for setting up legitimate reasons for this invasion.

Russia's initial response was to convene an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, hoping to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Georgia and South Ossetia. But the Russian draft resolution was contentious. The United State and others objected to language that appeared to exempt Russia from condemnation over the use of force. [2]

and this, remember the passports?

The Security Council failed to agree on a resolution, and the following day, as Russian media began to report casualties among Russian troops and citizens in South Ossetia, a stern-faced President Dmitri Medvedev appeared on prime-time television to make a chilling call to arms: "I am obligated to defend the life and honor of Russian citizens, wherever they may be," he said. "We will not let those responsible for the death of our people go unpunished." [2]
Let's not forget that the poor ole' Russian bear is simply doing what it has always done, protect innocent people from atrocities.

In a news conference, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia said Georgian attacks on what he called “Russian citizens” in South Ossetia “amounted to ethnic cleansing.” [3]
Tibisli, the capital of Georgia, made a grievous error by over estimating the support they would receive from the U.S. and other Western allies. I think it has made them feel empowered to move against Russian aggression and take matters into their own hands. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, the West is not going to risk open warfare with Russia. Although, a portion of what they used to be the Russians still command fierce military, economic, and political clout in the region. The Euro's are constantly trying to pander to Russia due to fears from the past and the United States does not want to openly upset the balance of "Russian Democracy" with a military conflict. Plus, there is Iraq and Afghanistan to think about.

From the Russian point of view there are many other reasons to press an attack on Georgia.

Georgia is a transit country for oil and natural gas exports from the former Soviet Union that threatens Russia’s near monopoly. [3]

"They need control of energy routes,” Mr. Saakashvili said. “They need sea ports. They need transportation infrastructure. And primarily, they want to get rid of us. ” [3]

The Russians may be belligerent, swaggering, arrogant bullies who move as stealthily as an 18 wheeler, but, no one can accuse them of being stupid. They set the trap, guided Georgia to it, and then sprang it when Georgia blinked. With the potential problems facing the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Iran, I would think that military intervention in Georgia is almost a nil possibility. Since diplomatic resolutions with Russia are about as effective as trying to make a tree walk. The only things the West can possibly do is provide military aid to Georgia, strategic and tactical information on Russian movements, and "MAYBE" some SPEC WAR intervention. Even these possibilities are a stretch, at best.

Hopefully this conflict will be resolved without any more bloodshed, but, I think it is safe to say that the Russian bear is back and growling. The eagle needs to realize this and start preparing a little better for the upcoming years, an old enemy has just resurfaced and we have a lot of new ones to keep him company.

[1] Georgia (country)
[2] Has Georgia Overreached in Ossetia?
[3] Georgia and Russia Nearing All-Out War



Copyright © Politics and Critical Thinking Design by BTDesigner | Blogger Theme by BTDesigner | Powered by Blogger