17 September 2008

Western re-think on Caucasian war?

Are Western countries beginning to doubt the wisdom of their rush to support Georgia in last months Caucasian conflict?

Did Saakashvili Lie?: The West Begins to Doubt Georgian Leader - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International:
But now the volume is being turned down on the anti-Moscow rhetoric. Last week German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier publicly called for clarification on the question of who is to blame for the Caucasus war. 'We do need to know more about who bears what portion of the responsibility for the military escalation and to what extent,' Steinmeier told a meeting of Germany's more than 200 ambassadors in Berlin. The European Union, he said, must now 'define our relations with the parties to the conflict for the medium and long term,' and that the time has come to have concrete information.

If there is a re-think going on, however, the signs are very faint -- "nuanced" as they like to say in academia.

Der Spiegel reports

But now, five weeks after the end of the war in the Caucasus, the winds have shifted in America. Even Washington is beginning to suspect that Saakashvili, a friend and ally, could in fact be a gambler -- someone who triggered the bloody five-day war and then told the West bold-faced lies. "The concerns about Russia have remained," says Paul Sanders, an expert on Russia and the director of the conservative Nixon Center in Washington. His words reflect the continuing Western assessment that Russia's military act of revenge against the tiny Caucasus nation Georgia was disproportionate, that Moscow violated international law by recognizing the separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and, finally, that it used Georgia as a vehicle to showcase its imperial renaissance.

But there's no sign of any acknowledgement that Russia's response was no more "disproportionate" that Israel's attack on Lebanon in 2006, the US attacks on Iraq in 2003 and Yugoslavia in 1999, or the British attack on Argentina in 1982.

If Western hypocrisy is cracking, the cracks are still painted over.

4 comments:

The Scylding said...

I agree with all your examples of disproportionate rezction - but could you shed some light on your views of the Falklands war? As I understand it, there was a territorial dispute, the Argentines precipated the war, and the British took it back. I remember reading about a British commander who said after the war, that it wasn't all that one-sided: His words - "it was a damn-close thing", or something to that effect. Comments?

Steve Hayes said...

Skylding,

There are quite a lot of parallels between the Falklands and South Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Like Georgia, Argentina claimed territories inhabited by people of a different language and culture who did not want to be ruled by them. Like Georgia, Argentina attacked to take control of the territory. And like Russia, Britain staged a counter-attack and drove the invaders out.

The "disproportionate" part is that Russia also attacked territory that was indisputably Georgian, and Britain sank the Argentine navy ship General Belgrano, with great and unnecessary loss of life.

The Scylding said...

I see - a bit like "don't poke the bear, don't poke the lion", if you get my drift.

Steve Hayes said...

I see - a bit like "don't poke the bear, don't poke the lion", if you get my drift

Not really -- more like the pot calling the kettle black.

George Bush called Russia's action disproportionate (which it was), but it pales into insignificance when compared with his invasion of Iraq 12 years after Iraqi troops had been driven from Kuwait.

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