...a blog by Richard Flowers

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 2777: War Games


And the Olympic Gold Medal for Throwing Their Weight About by a Superpower goes to… well, actually it's America again, but not without a fierce late challenge from the Empire of Vladland (formerly the Peoples' Plutocracy of Yeltsin).

"This is not a war," the Russian ambassador told the world straight-faced. "This is Peace Enforcement."


It's funny (funny-peculiar that is) to see such an OLD-FASHIONED war peace-enforcement: a simple grab for land and resources, with none of your new-fangled asymmetric war-on-terra-fare.

But then Vladland is an old-fashioned sort of a place, with old-fashioned tanks and old-fashioned massive numerical superiority.

It's not that Georgia is ENTIRELY innocent in all this – they went barrelling into their dissident province of South Ossetia intent on using force to crush the local partisans. (Just like Vladland went barrelling into THEIR dissident province of Chechnya to crush THEIR local partisans… but we'll not mention that.)

But then the Russian army responds with 200 tanks that they JUST HAPPEN to have parked across the border. Crossing the border to possibly topple a rogue state (just like WE did in Iraq… but we'll not mention that either) to prevent crimes against humanity and protect their own ethnic group (just like the GERMANS did in the… and at that point Godwin's Law is satisfied).

The key question that troubles the West is this: if we HAD moved to admit Georgia into NATO (which IRONICALLY we didn't do because it might have been "provocative"), would that have contained the Russian threat or would we now be facing World War Part Three as our treaty obligations forced us to respond to an attack on one member as an attack on all members?

Because, let's face it, none of us WANT to see Georgia being crushed under a Russian invasion… but I think many of us want to see a full scale war with Russia EVEN LESS. So all the Monkey-in-Chief's brave talk about defending Georgia is… just talk. The Georgians, and indeed the rest of the states in the Russian "sphere of influence", can expect Western support all the way up to just short of actually committing any real assistance.

And of course the Russian leaders, Prince Vlad and President Mediocre, know this. Indeed they are counting on it.

The lessons from history are clear: after the Cold War we smashed Russia to pieces, plundered her reserves of natural resources and – at least from their perspective – humiliated them and left them with a drunk in charge. Prince Vlad seized that opportunity (and a lot of his old KGB files) and used it to forge a new powerful image for Russia built on ethnic image and a cult of his personality. Does ANY of this sound familiar?

Yes, after confronting the Soviet Union for eighty years of Cold War, when it turned out that their MASTER STRATEGY for World Domination was, er, to huddle in their defensive position and wait for the inevitable revolution, it seems that we have managed to turn Russia into an aggressive neo-feudal dictatorship that really DOES want to conquer her neighbours.

And we are going to have to face the fact that there's not a whole lot we can do about it in the short term.

The Monkey-in-Chief's adventure in Middle Eastern politics – with Lord Blairimort's support – and our ongoing commitments to rebuilding Afghanistan and continuing to smash up Iraq leave us with neither the ability nor the moral standing to do anything about it when Russia gets pushy with any of her neighbours.

But what we CAN do is commit to spreading prosperity and democracy to the Eastern European states who HAVE joined the European Union. By making the Union a success throughout the expanded area and by being clear that this is an opportunity (not a threat) to all the former Soviet Republics AND RUSSIA HERSELF, then we can show that our interests are peaceful AND that it works! This isn't a quick solution; it is the challenge of a generation – but it is doable. We have seen it done. Just as the first generation of the Union saw that peace between France and Germany was possible, just as the second generation brought in former military dictatorships like Spain and Greece, so our generation can erase the division of the Iron Curtain.

And maybe in time we can persuade the Russians to join us too.

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