"That you may ruminate"

…On the War in Georgia.

Posted by Steve on August 10, 2008

As promised, some thoughts on the war in Georgia.

This war is one of those where there’s not a clear-cut Good Guys and Bad Guys division in my mind. Yes, Russia invaded Georgia, and it’s hard not to view that as just the latest event in a centuries-spanning tradition of Russian imperialism stretching from the founding of Russia with Kievan Rus on up through the present day. (Well, you can argue it was interrupted in the 90s, but not before. Comparing the Soviet Union to the empire of the Czars is a serious case of “only the names have changed”.) On the other hand, the reason Russia’s given for the invasion, at least as of the last news report I saw, was that Georgia had stepped up military action against South Ossetian separatists, and knowing nothing about them my inclination’s to favor self-determination.

That last sentence hits on the real issue for me: I know damned little about this war that’s just started. As I’ve seen pointed out on blogs belonging to everyone from a metric buttload of law professors
to the author of a sex comedy webcomic, US media coverage of this has been pretty shoddy. I admit, I could’ve gone to foreign news services, but… ok, I was lazy.

What I do know is this: South Ossetia is a province in Georgia. Note that North Ossetia is a province in the Russian Federation. Ossetians in South Ossetia are not happy that when the Russian Empire broke up (for the second time) and Georgia was (for the second time) reestablished as an independent country, they were part of Georgia and not the rump empire. Apparently, they’re overwhelmingly not happy about it. I don’t take no stock in nationalism, but on the other hand as I said above my inclination’s to support separatists/independence-seekers unless they’re just the sort of reprobates who shouldn’t be allowed to live anywhere as part of any polity except the inside of a prison or the underground of a cemetery and their reason for wanting independence is to set up a little Republic of Evil so they can continue perverting the world. Confederate States of America, I’m looking at you.

So, South Ossetia’s population wants to break out of Georgia and either set up an independent nation or rejoin the Russian Empire… err, join the Russian Federation. Georgia obviously doesn’t want to let them. Russia wants them to, and may be interested in reconquering Georgia to boot, especially since there’s oil pipelines there.

Add to that cross-claims of deliberately targeting civilians with bomber, artillery, missile, and infantry strikes, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a mess. About the only certain thing is: people are getting killed. More to the point, people are getting killed who probably don’t have individual needs-to-dieness. In other words, probably the wrong people are getting killed.

Note from Steve: I wrote this over the course of two days. Current events being what they are, I’ve learned more, but it’s already out-of-date.

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