Archive for August 10th, 2008
Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 10th, 2008 4:40 am by HL
Lessons of the Ossetian War: Don’t Bait the Bear and Stop Making a Fetish Out of Borders
Georgia’s a client state of Russia’s, even if they refuse to act like one. Russia can slap them around any time it feels like it, and there’s very little they can do about it, because not only are they militarily weaker, but they need energy that only Russia can supply and have nothing that Russia must have in return.
As everyone is probably aware by now, the Georgians attacked into South Ossetia August 7th, in an attempt to put down an autonomous government which had been ruling a good part (but not all) of the area since 1992. 1992 being when the last war occurred and when the Russians forced the Georgians to back down last time.
The Ossetians have had two referendums on independence. Neither of them was recognized by the international community and neither of them was done well enough to qualify, since ethnic Georgians mostly did not participate. However as best I can tell, a majority of residents of South Ossetia do want independence from Georgia.
Since 2004 there has been low intensity conflict, as Georgia has tried to crack down on smuggling (always a problem in “semi-autonomous” regions). At the beginning of August more severe fighting broke out, with both sides claiming the other started it. That quickly appears to have turned into some ethnic cleansing, with Georgian villages getting the worst of it. So, on Thursday, the Georgians invaded full force and assaulted the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.
Then Friday the Russians decided to intervene, sending in planes, tanks and troops. They currently claim to have air superiority (which I believe). Tskhinvali has not fallen and Russia claims to have broken the assult. Georgia has declared full mobilization.
So what’s it all mean? I’d take a few things from this.
One: Georgia is completely inside Russia’s sphere of influence. Georgia’s army is 30,000 men. Russia’s is a million, with about a 100,000 just in the area. Russia has more tanks and more planes. Georgia’s going to wind up giving Russia pretty much what it wants, which is a South Ossetia where Russia has more influence than Georgia.
Two: NATO expansion into Georgia would be incredibly stupid. Are you willing to send US troops to die in one of these little wars? One might argue that Russia won’t risk a war with NATO, but I’ll argue that Russia considers Georgia so much a part of its natural sphere of influence that it’ll bet that NATO won’t fight there, and if it will, might be willing to do it anyway.
Three: The international fetish for territorial integrity based on essentially arbitrary borders is a problem. It’s an entirely modern artifact—no one had any hesitation redrawing borders in the 19th century. The intention is to make states secure, but in an age of nations, it often has created and preserved states that cannot function. Nowhere is this more visible than in Africa, where borders were deliberately drawn to cut important tribes in half, or to include tribes in one nation that despised each other. The end result has been huge amounts of needless ethnic strife.
Granted that South Ossetia’s independence referendums were largely bogus, if the international community wished to it could specify what would be an acceptable referendum and oversee it. If the people want to leave, why not let them? Yes, it may make other nations really twitchy that they too might be divisible, set a bad precedent and all that. But perhaps it might set a good precedent too. Something about democracy and self determination. All that stuff we claim to believe in.
In the meantime, Georgia’s a client state of Russia’s, even if they refuse to act like one. Russia can slap them around any time it feels like it, and there’s very little they can do about it, because not only are they militarily weaker, but they need energy that only Russia can supply and have nothing that Russia must have in return.
Georgia knows this, even if they don’t want to admit it. Unless they get stupid, or the Russians overreach (always possible, the idea that people always act based on common sense predicts very little in this world) the status quo will likely return. South Ossetia will strictly speaking belong to Georgia, but will really be essentially autonomous from Georgia and dependent on Russia.
Plus ca change.
Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 10th, 2008 4:39 am by HL
Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 10th, 2008 4:38 am by HL
John Edwards’ Ken Doll Lust
Edwards blames “an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want.” We could have figured that ourselves.
Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 10th, 2008 4:37 am by HL
New McCain Spanish Ad: Obama Is A “Celebridad”
Looks like McCain’s efforts to paint Obama as a “celebrity” have now gone bilingual! Here’s the new Spanish-language McCain radio spot that dubs Obama a “celebridad”: “No hay duda que Barack Obama es alguien popular, una celebridad que dice lo…
Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 10th, 2008 4:36 am by HL
The Recent Unpleasantness
You’ve seen the news as our feature for almost a day now and no doubt at every other news outlet in the country. So I thought I’d share a few thoughts about the Edwards matter. His personal failing speaks for…
Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 10th, 2008 4:35 am by HL
Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA. My special guest was David Dayen, from d-day, Hullabaloo and Calitics, who discussed the myriad of problems the McCain campaign is facing.
Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 10th, 2008 4:34 am by HL
Clooney to film story of bin-Laden’s driver
George Clooney, already one of Hollywood’s leading liberal voices, has embarked on what may be one of his most controversial projects: the story of Osama bin Laden’s driver…
Georgia may pull out of Olympic games
Georgia may pull out of Olympic games