Monday, August 11, 2008

Brink of war

"Russia and Georgia are on the brink of war", said a number of Internet news sources. Personally, I think that by the time one side is shooting the other's airplanes down, and the other has crossed the border in tanks, the brink has been left behind, but let it be.

It's not that I think Georgia should have sovereignity in South Ossetia now and forever. South Ossetians clearly don't want to be a part of Georgia, and in general multiethnic states don't seem to work very well in the Caucasus. For all I care all those little ethnic areas in the Causacus can start their own countries.

As long as South Ossetia is a part of Georgia, however, and is not recognized by anyone, including Russia, Georgia does have sovereignity there. Coming there across the border in 150 tanks might be considered a little act of war, even if it's to protect one's own citizens.

Hitler-card is a bit overused, but the parallel does come to mind. Hitler's troops entered Czechoslovakia ostensibly to protect the ethnic German minority there. We all know how that ended.

Russians are a lot more practical, though. Protecting one's own disgruntled ethnic minority abroad requires having an actual disgruntled ethnic minority to protect, which in turns involves putting that minority there if it isn't there yet, and making it reasonably disgruntled if it isn't. Russians, on the other hand, protect Russian citizens abroad, which is a lot easier, because it's much easier to find an already-disgruntled group (pretty much every group in the Caucasus is already disgruntled) and make them Russian citizens than to find actual Russians and piss them off at whatever country they live in.

The Russian ethnic minority in Georgia is, incidentally, only 1.5% of the population. But that's no problem - let's offer the Russian citizenship to all the people of South Ossetia, all the people of Abkhazia, etc. And voila - you instantly have your very own people in the neighboring country, to protect with your very own tanks. Nice.

Finalnd's Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has declared that he is for peace. He did not say whose peace, but he is expected to apologize for the war real soon now.

Sosialistiliitto, our own tireless fighter for peace, is apparently all on summer vacation, because it failed to demand peace (anyone's), stage a protest, organize a demonstration, or indeed mention the whole thing. Since the last entry on their "against the war"-page is from July 13, 2006 and refers to the war between Israel and Lebanon, the vacation has clearly been very long.

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