Russia Blog is running a recent editorial from the International Herald Tribune in which Henry Kissinger and George Schultz discuss the past and prospects of Russian-Western relations. I thank these two former Secretaries of State for their level-headedness. Let’s cut the rhetoric and be forward-thinking. Read it here.
I’m not sure who out there has been paying attention to this when they could be watching Michael Phelps swim, but a conflict has arisen between Georgia (the country, not the US state) and Russia over a separatist region known as South Ossetia (technically part of Georgia, though in essence independent.) Here are a few notable links:
- Thomas Barnett seems to have a moderate view of what went on / is going on in Georgia/South Ossetia/Abkhazia here, essentially concluding that Georgia was the original aggressor, if I read him right. He descends into a bit of military-speak, but I think the Core and Gap ideas are fairly intuitive.
- A debate in which a Mr. O’Sullivan offers the theory that Russia baited Georgia into action lies here.
- Russia Blog seems solid on insisting that the right questions get answered, or at least investigated, here.
Honestly, I’m quite confused and am not sure which side to believe. On the surface the “Russia baited Georgia” theory has a conspiracy theory feel to it, immediately inclining me to reject it. In principle, though, it is possible. Even if we did know what happened, a good evaluation of its significance is complicated by the fact that, while South Ossetia is de jure part of Georgia, it has for over a decade been de facto independent. So, whatever Georgia’s motives for attacking S. Ossetia, it will attempt to hide be hind the de jure rather than the de facto version of things. It seems that the rest of the world have done Georgia a disservice by allowing these separatist issues to remain unresolved, thus providing a situation that would tempt Georgia to violent action.
And a harsh foreign policy view by means of color-coded flags. [Update: Link is dead, so you get an archive.org backup — which is pretty worthless, since it doesn’t have the images. Oh well!]