Tag Archives: nationalism

Why Georgia Matters

First, let me just say people need to more closely monitor what Tom Clancy has to say because he called this conflict in Georgia a long time ago in the fantastic video game Ghost Recon.  Don’t worry.  America wins in the end.  He also wrote a novel about terrorists flying a jumbo jet into the capital building during the state of the union way before 9/11.  The man is really on top of things.

Of course, the US media performed admirably in telling the story of Georgia.  Here is the narrative I heard:  The Russians attacked Georgian cities and infrastructure, killing thousands of civilians in response to Georgian attacks in South Ossetia against Pro-Russian paramilitary units.  The Russian response was overwhelmingly harsh and John McCain swiftly and decisively called on the Russians to withdraw immediately or face the full might of American force.

Of course, this sounds normal to those of us in America because, at the end of the day, there is no such thing as history and everything in the world revolves around how US presidential candidates respond to events.

First, a little context.  Georgia has a significant oil pipeline that transports the black gold from Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea oil fields to Turkey and the Mediterranean (and thus the western world) while bypassing Russia (yay!) and Armenia who is officially at war with Azerbaijan.That’s one reason people care about Georgia, but there is another reason this story is interesting and that brings us to the Republic of Kosovo’s recent independence from Serbia.

The global community has not come to an agreement about separatist movements.  When does a domestic separatist movement, many of which use terrorism as a weapon, become legitimate?  When can that territory declare itself free from their current home-nation and create their own.  The US and the West said ‘we decide’ this month when they recognized the Republic of Kosovo after it officially broke away from Serbia.

This separatist issue doesn’t really effect Americans, unless Hawaii decides to bounce, but other major world powers like Russia and China, as well as Pakistan, India, Spain, Israel and many more all have territories that would like to start their own countries.  Despite international guidelines that vaguely outline when a territory can secede, in reality its American and NATO that decides who can legitimately secede and who can’t.  See the Kosovo example.

The Russians, who strongly supported the Serbian effort to keep Kosovo officially within Serbia have a bunch of small territories that want to secede, notably the Chechens.  So when America and the West declared they call the shots over Kosovo, the Russian were infuriated.  That type of precendent could stoke the fire of many seperatist movements the world over, especially in Chechnya.

What makes the Georgian story so interesting is the Russians basically did the same thing the US did in Kosovo.  They support the separation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia.  These territories would then become satellite states of Russia or be annexed and join the Russian Federation.  The thing is, it sounds like most people living in these areas want to leave Georgia and join Russia.  (I’d love to see a reliable poll.)  Should we let them self-determine?