Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Commentary on Georgia vs. Russia

A decent article found on Newsmax.com:

Russia scholar Michael McFaul of Stanford University summed up the use of overwhelming force by Russia in Georgia this week as nothing less than “a signal to everyone that Russia is back — and Russia is going to try and dominate this region of the world,” according to a report in The Los Angeles Times.

Last week, South Ossetian separatists — supported by Moscow — poured machine gun and mortar fire into neighboring Georgian villages. Georgia retaliated by attacking the separatist capital Tskhinvali with artillery, providing the pretext for Moscow’s invasion of Georgia.

Most recently, Russian soldiers drove into Georgia to open a second front in the escalating conflict — storming out of the Russia-backed breakaway republic of Abkhazia to seize control of a western army base, according to Associated Press reports.

What seemed at first to be minor clashes in tiny, faraway places that most Americans never heard of now has think tanks buzzing, with scholars and pundits alike resurrecting such iconic terms as “Cold War,” “Iron Curtain,” and “spheres of influence.”

Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, put things in perspective in a Washington Post column:

“Historians will come to view Aug. 8, 2008, as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Russia’s attack on sovereign Georgian territory marked the official return of history, indeed to an almost 19th-century style of great-power competition, complete with virulent nationalisms, battles for resources, struggles over spheres of influence and territory…”

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, who raced back from the Bejing Olympics to take command on the ground, charged that the U.S. has displayed a “Cold War mentality” in its friendship with leaders in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, according to The Times.

The August 11, 2008 edition of the Christian Science Monitor shouted dramatically in a headline: “By going to war with Georgia, Russia is drawing a new Iron Curtain.” ....