Georgia On My Mind

Please excuse this interruption. A few years ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Georgia, the former Soviet republic presently under attack by Russian forces. It is a sadly forgotten gem on the world map: naturally beautiful with a lovely climate, wonderful cuisine, generous people. We had the good fortune to make a number of friends during our visit, and recently received an email from one, which I thought I’d share.

We all need so desperately our friends’ support during these horrible days! Russian brutality is just beyond all boundaries, let alone the information war that they are waging against Georgia. They are punishing us for our hope and aspiration to be a civilized western country. I really hope this is the last time that we see Russians on our soil. They are saying they have stopped the bombing of civilians, however the violence form the soldiers continues, they are moving all around Gerogia on their tanks and bullying the local population. Actually, on Monday only the strict statement of President Bush prevented them from bombing our capital, though they bombed the suburbs of it. Yesterday and today they have been throwing explosives from their helicopters on the pristine forests of Georgia—at the moment 50 hectares of forest is already devastated because of the fire. Today they have exploded the rail bridge connecting West and East Georgia with the aim to prevent humanitarian aid via Turkey. I lack words to describe what they have planned and what they have done and how they used irresponsible local “leaders” of S.Ossetia and Abkhazia for their dirty politics to prevent Georgia’s NATO accession. Well, I don’t have enough words to describe all our anger, but we stay calm, unified and are determined to build and restore our country as soon as possible and move forward, without looking in the past.

I should note that one of the days we spent together was a trip to Gori, the Georgian city that has been a target of Russian bombing. It is, ironically, the home of the Stalin Museum.

11 comments… add one
  • Too young to remember Soviet aggression in Afghanistan, I’ve been very interested in this situation. It’s hard to see this as anything but a huge step backwards to the Cold War — something anyone even casually observing Russian politics over the past five years could have seen coming, and something President Bush was sadly too myopic to foresee when he was looking at “a piece of [Putin’s] soul.”

    Paul SF August 16, 2008, 1:28 pm
  • or invading sovereign nations, for that matter.
    We have no moral authority left. Very sad.

    SF August 16, 2008, 1:39 pm
  • Stick to baseball. There is absolutely no place in NATO for Georgia. What is it now, a safe house for abused women? Bush has no ability to control any foreign countries right now. His words mean nothing.
    This is a completely different circumstance than the Cold War. Russia is now a regional power throwing it’s weight around. Georgia provoked the response, though surely it was extreme. Most Russian citizens would agree. But this isn’t a precursor to a massive buildup of military might over a forty year period. That period is long gone, no matter how much McCain would like to believe otherwise.
    This also isn’t how the US would handle a neighbor acting badly. But the days of the US policing the world are numbered, especially for this incompetent administration. Russia and China, and Iran too, will do exactly what they want. And all have been. Together they represent a new axis of diplomacy – the “We’ll do what we want, when we want. Have fun trying to stop us”.

    Jeff August 16, 2008, 2:34 pm
  • Russia’s response is certainly extreme, but you can’t kick the bully in the shin and then cry victim when he beats you to a pulp.

    Atheose August 16, 2008, 4:03 pm
  • “…especially for this incompetent administration….”
    way too much bush-bashing for my taste…reagan was the only president in most of our lifetimes to have a handle on our “place” in world affairs, and how that should be maintained, rescuing it from previous failed admins…subsequent admins. frittered away our military strength and stature…reagan had it right: diplomacy [aka butt-kissing] isn’t the only means of showing leadership and strength…unfortunately, i guess, establishing yourself as a force to be reckoned with sends a more effective message…
    “…Stick to baseball….”
    amen

    dc August 17, 2008, 9:32 am
  • Russia’s response is certainly extreme, but you can’t kick the bully in the shin and then cry victim when he beats you to a pulp.
    This makes no sense to me. It is a line of reasoning that in no way extends to any other area of life. It’s akin to arguing the woman deserved it for “dressing that way.” What does “kick[ing] the bully in the shin” entail? Having the audacity to hold free and democratic elections? Daring to apply for NATO membership? Russia would argue it’s sending troops into South Ossetia, but that’s a province that is part of Georgia, and Georgia did so to quell increasing separatist violence that many believe was instigated by Russia, who had “peacekeepers” in both provinces.
    Georgia could have handled this situation much better, and I tend to agree with Russia’s logic that if Kosovo deserves independence, then so does South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but I fail to see any rationale for Russia to drive to Tbilsi’s doorstep, except as a way to bully its former satellites into acquiescing to its control — essentially an attempt to re-create a sphere of influence decidedly patterned after the lines drawn during the Cold War.

    Paul SF August 17, 2008, 10:09 am
  • This makes no sense to me.
    Seems like it must make some sense, since you come back around to arguing the exact point.
    decidedly patterned after the lines drawn during the Cold War.
    Not in the least. Russia will have regional control, especially where their interests align with China. That temporary coalition’s is not a legitimate threat to the US of A. It’s a merely counterweight.

    Jeff August 17, 2008, 11:22 am
  • From what I had heard, Georgia attacked an independent area of Russian citizens. I believe that justifies a response by Russia.
    However, I believe the extremity of Russia’s response is NOT justified. Killing civilians is never okay, and Russia is definitely using this as an excuse to throw its weight around. Seriously, why give them the excuse to do so?

    Atheose August 17, 2008, 11:27 am
  • To go back to the original analogy I used: suppose you’re at a school, and there’s a bully in your class that doesn’t like you. He used to control you and steal your lunch money whenever he wanted, though he hasn’t lately because the teacher has told him not to. But he still looks at you like he wants revenge. So during recess, thinking you are safe, you make a bunch of funny faces at him, maybe sticking your tongue out. He then tackles you and beats you up. His response is not justified, but you’re certainly an idiot for provoking it–ESPECIALLY since he was looking for an excuse.
    As Jeff said, your second paragraph is almost exactly what I’m trying to say: “Georgia could have handled this situation much better, and I tend to agree with Russia’s logic that if Kosovo deserves independence, then so does South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but I fail to see any rationale for Russia to drive to Tbilsi’s doorstep”. The first thing I admitted to earlier was that Russia’s response is extreme. What are we arguing about here?

    Atheose August 17, 2008, 11:36 am
  • From what I had heard, Georgia attacked an independent area of Russian citizens. I believe that justifies a response by Russia.
    This is really the crux of the dispute. The regions are autonomous, but they’re not independent.
    Anyway, I objected to making it sound like Georgia had it coming just because they handled the situation poorly (and that assumes they weren’t baited by the Russian “peacekeepers” who apparently fomented rebellions in the regions). I think the bully analogy trivializes the situation. If you kick the bully in the shins, and he shoots you in the head, that might be a closer comparison.
    And the Soviets weren’t a threat to the U.S. either — at least not for the last 20 years or so of the Cold War, if ever.

    Paul SF August 17, 2008, 3:50 pm
  • I think what I object to is the whole “good guy vs bad guy” generalizations made; one side is not 100% at fault, and the other side is not 100% innocent, and that’s what CNN and several other news networks seem to portray. I don’t feel that Georgia had it coming, but I feel like we need to at least acknowledge the fact that Georgia attacked the Russian civilians in Ossetia. I didn’t mean to try to trivialize the situation with my analogy–it was just the easiest way to convey my feelings about the whole thing. When civilians are killed by the side portrayed as “innocent”, I think they should share some of the blame and ridicule.
    And I had not heard about the peacekeepers baiting Georgia; that certainly changes things to a certain degree. I wouldn’t put it past Putin to set something like this up. Horrible situation, no matter how you look at it.

    Atheose August 17, 2008, 4:15 pm

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.