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Posted by John Keller

I'm hearing a lot of noise in the world press about regions in the Caucasus of Russia and Georgia respectively called North and South Ossetia. The residents of these regions reportedly are different from the folks in Russia and Georgia. Ossetians, it seems, speak a language akin to the Iranian language of Farsi, and like the Russians more than they do the Georgians.

I read that different ethnic groups, different languages, competing claims of independence, and the like are justifications for military action in the region. This is a bunch of garbage. Russia invaded Georgia, plain and simple

South Ossetia is a district in Georgia. It is not a country; it is not an independent entity. Neither NATO, the European Union, nor the United Nations recognizes South Ossetia as an independent entity. Only Russia believes it to be so.

Now why might Russia believe so passionately that the district of South Ossetia is an independent entity that it would intervene militarily in the region -- even though this district lies wholly within the legal and recognized borders of Georgia?

Might it be that the government of Georgia is more closely aligned with the West than is Russia, that Georgia would like to join NATO, and that it's in Russia's best interests, therefore, to keep Georgia unstable by internal strife? I would think so.

Russian has stirred up plenty of trouble in the South Ossetia district to keep the pot boiling. Russia has "peace keepers" in South Ossetia ostensibly to keep ethnic Ossetians and Georgians from hurting one another. Still, published reports say these "peace keepers" have become Ossetian partisans. Moreover, Russia has granted Russian passports to residents of the South Ossetia district of Georgia. How provocative is that?

Russian leaders claimed they were coming to the aid of kindred spirits in South Ossetia when they sent Russian forces across the Georgian border with tanks, artillery, jet bombers, and infantry soldiers and started destroying Georgian cities within and outside of the south Ossetia district.

Do the Russians, historically, have a reputation for coming to the aid of beleaguered peoples throughout the world? I don't think so. The Russians do, however, have a reputation for snatching chunks of land near their borders when they see an opportunity.

I think that's all this affair in Georgia is: an opportunity for Russia to snatch some territory and put Georgia on notice that it had better not join NATO or get any closer to the West -- or else.

Let's try to put this into perspective. The South Ossetia district is probably roughly the size of Imperial County, Calif. Now what if Mexico decided to issue Mexican passports to all the residents of Imperial County, and send in "peace keepers" under the guise of protecting the Hispanic population of that county.

Then, say, some folks in Imperial County started rioting, and county sheriff's deputies in riot gear went in to quiet things down. What Russia is doing in Georgia, would be the same as if Mexico sent soldiers across the California border to chase off the sheriff's deputies and occupy Imperial County.

How well would that all go over? Not well, I would imagine.

Post a Comment

Blogger PeterK said...
May be you should read some more before making things "plain and simple" in your mind.
First of all, there is a lot of history to this conflict, even Russia aside. You need to have a basic grasp of it before you brush off ethnic violence as an excuse - it is unfortunately quite real.

Second, you need to get your facts right. It was Georgian military that launched a massive attach on South Ossetian capital on Thursday night, using artillery and multiple rocket launchers. The city with 70k population is in complete ruins. If you read something other than biased CNN (e.g. BBC), it's clearly stated.

Lastly, for your claim to be true, Russia would need to push beyond South Ossetian borders. That, so far, has not happened. Hopefully it won't. Russia did bomb a number of military targets within Georgia (notably missing a tank base and hitting an apartment block on one occasion). But that has become a standard involvement procedure if you recall pre-W bombing of Iraq, for instance, or Serbia - we were not invading, merely "suppressing military targets".

And overall, it's deplorable to see people twisting everything so hard. All sides do it. Why can't it be seen for what it is? There are no angles in this conflict. There is an arrogant politician on Georgian side that has tried for years to sucker in western governments to help him to bring over by force separatist regions that do not desire autonomy. And against advice of his own allies he starts a gamble, in which a city is destroyed and countless lives are lost. And on the other side, a bitter, power hungry behemoth that will try to do whatever it can to upset Georgian alignment with the West.
Sunday, August 10, 2008 11:39:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Steven said...
This author only need to look back 10 years and find all of his/her answers.

Write this type of story just showed how ignorant and arrogant the author is.
Sunday, August 10, 2008 11:45:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Tomas said...
"Do the Russians, historically, have a reputation for coming to the aid of beleaguered peoples throughout the world? I don't think so. The Russians do, however, have a reputation for snatching chunks of land near their borders when they see an opportunity."

Didn't we do the same to Mexico? Why did Georgia attack South Ossetia and killed so many of its own citizens? And what are we supposed to do, invade Russia, stop buying their oil? Would we sacrifice $10 at the pump for Mr. Saakashvili? If anything, this situation only shows that we have very limited options when faced against a real enemy, with a real (although incompetent) army, and specially against a country that cares little for what we say, or do. Russia is in the enviable position of not needing the US for anything, they have a growing agriculture, they have all kinds of natural resources, and not that many people to share those resources with. They also have those nukes, remember?
Sunday, August 10, 2008 11:53:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Sergei said...
What a "deep" analysis... Do you remember Kosovo?
Sunday, August 10, 2008 11:54:00 AM EDT  

Blogger google said...
Good thing Russia invaded Georgia! That sleazeball mass-murdering Saakashvili should be brought before the ICC.

Of course you raise a valid point that Russia does not want Georgia closer to NATO. As you may recall, Russia has been invaded by its neighbors many times, and suffered casualties that make 9/11 look like a broken fingernail. It is being surrounded by a very hostile US, which along with its close ally Israel is the most aggressive nation in the world. But that has been the case for a while, and Ukraine and Poland have done similar, yet - no Russian invasion. (Meanwhile, the US was ready to go to nuclear war to prevent Russian military in Cuba - a country which does not even border the US - at the same time US had nuclear weapons in Turkey - but I suppose any sort of "equality" does not apply, the US is meant to rule the world, right?)

Where do you stand on the US invading Grenada under Reagan? There wasn't even a threat to the US students there remotely to what Georgia was doing in South Ossetia (no US citizen died in Grenada) - mass murder, snipers shooting at civilians fleeing, bombing the entire city with rockets, thousands dead in one day (as much as 9/11, but in a much much smaller population of 70,000!).

You write: "published reports say these 'peace keepers' have become Ossetian partisans". Well half of these peacekeppers are Georgian, and they murdered the Russian ones when Georgia started their assault. How would you feel if Iranian peacekeepers in Iraq murdered American peacekeepers, shooting them in the back, while Iran started massive bombardment of Kirkuk? Even though that is half-way around the world, I know people like you - you would be calling for war and destruction, perhaps even nuclear war against Iran, like InSane McCain and all the other wingnuts . . . .

You write: "The Russians do, however, have a reputation for snatching chunks of land near their borders when they see an opportunity." Your knowledge of Russian history is so pathetic, I cannot even begin to respond to this. But one point I would make: what other empire has ever given back land it has controlled for 50 years? Russia gave up a lot of land in the 90s - do you think it likely the US will give California, New Mexico and Arizona back to Mexico? I don't think so. So when you accuse people of landgrabbing, look at your own backyard and try not to make such ignorant statements.

You write: "Now what if Mexico decided to issue Mexican passports to all the residents of Imperial County, and send in 'peace keepers' under the guise of protecting the Hispanic population of that county." I ask you the reverse - what if Mexico started bombing a community of Americans in Mexico, murdering women and children, while at the same time cozying up a nuclear Iran and joining a military alliance with Iran?

What people like you do not seem to remember - the three times that Russia was brutally ravaged by invasions in the last two centuries, those invasions all came from NATO countries. They have much more reason to fear NATO, than the US has to fear Iran - what a joke that one is.
Sunday, August 10, 2008 3:11:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Sveta Valieva said...
Who are you to make comments like these? Seems like the US and Europe are turning the blind eye to the atrocities committed by Georgian extremists in South Ossetia. Are the 2000 people dead on South Ossetian side not improtant? You're bringing in the size of the region into the argument and Russian interests and equating Mexico to Russia... Where did you get your education again (if you have any)? Oh, the US... Figures. Keep reading the US and Brittish news media and stay as informed as you'll ever get -- meaning 0. Russia doesnt need Georgia the least bit. They are a weak economy barely making it. They just dont want US in their backyard. Did you know that US trained the Georgian military specifically for this attack and some of the Americans fighting in Georgia were killed. Maybe they are part of Halliburton.
Americans conveniently ignore human suffering everywhere, yet those that died in 9/11 are still being talked about. Is american life better or more important than elsewhere in the world? Keep believing the bullshit they feed you; you cant do any better than that. How about a new titled for a new blog: “Georgia comnmits genocide of South Ossetians.”
Sunday, August 10, 2008 7:07:00 PM EDT  

Blogger google said...
You wrote: "Now what if Mexico decided to issue Mexican passports to all the residents of Imperial County, and send in 'peace keepers' under the guise of protecting the Hispanic population of that county."

One thing to keep in mind here is that S. Ossetia was part of Russia since 1801 (e.g., before the US acquired California in 1848). When Russia voluntarily made Georgia independent in the 1990s, ethnic tensions were high and Russia issued passports to S. Ossetians - who for centuries had already been Russian citizens - to protect them.

Unfortunately for many partisans in the world, genocide is only bad if the party you don't like conducts it. For example, for US radicals, Israeli genocide is OK b/c Israel is a US ally. Gerogian genocide - no problem, it's an ally.

But imagine if the situation was slightly different. Instead of Georgia launching the assault last Thursday, bombing civilians in a large city and wiping seven villages off the face of the Earth, Russia had done so, and Georgia came to their defense. Well, clearly in that case, Russia would have been the aggressor, and everyone would be supporting Georgia in defending the Ossetians.
Monday, August 11, 2008 12:32:00 PM EDT  

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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.

John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.