- First, it's pretty amazing how quickly nations are joining one side or the other. The U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Ukraine are all denouncing Russia as much as possible and proclaiming Georgia's right to its own "territorial integrity". Meanwhile, on the other side, Russia, Belarus, China, Moldova, and even America-hating Venezuela and Cuba have proclaimed that Russia was right to deploy peacekeeping troops to protect the security of its citizens.
- Soft propaganda from both sides is rampant. U.S. media always focuses on pictures of Georgians in anguish, while Russian media always focuses on pictures of Ossetians in anguish. I love reading the English version of ITAR-TASS's website, a website that looks like it came straight out of the Soviet oeuvre.
- Russia is really leaning on its regional allies to support them. They were really mad when Belarus waited a whole six days to finally back Russia. From ITAR-TASS:
On the fifth day of the operation the Kremlin decided it was enough. The Russian
ambassador to Belarus, Alexander Surikov, said, "It is not very clear to us why
the Belarussian authorities modestly keep quiet."
"One should be more explicit in expressing attitude to issues," he said.
Can't you just imagine a Bond-villain-like scenario with the Russian ambassador and his goons in his office in Minsk, stroking a cat and saying "Perhaps eets time to pay Lukashenko a visit to discuss eessue over cocktails. Molotov cocktails..."
- Posturing and saber-rattling is easily detected in the words both sides are choosing. Unfortunately, the Russians are the only ones with sabers to rattle. Other NATO countries are almost always reluctant to say anything confrontational, which is probably a good strategy. But the U.S. isn't reluctant. This is unfortunate, because the U.S. military is stretched dangerously thin, and everyone knows it. Therefore Russia will have the upper hand for awhile and there's nothing we can do about it.
- I don't think this could possibly escalate to Cold War levels, even with the added news about the U.S. and Poland installing a missile defense system. But before diplomacy can lead anywhere, the West must acknowledge that the South Ossetia conflict was started because of a poorly-thought-through invasion by Georgian forces into Tshkinvali. Every media source emphasizes Russia's forces invading Georgia and obliterating their military in violation with international law, but they all seem to conveniently under-report that it was that douchebag Saakashvili who ordered the invasion on a territory filled with people with Russian citizenship. Saakashvili should have known that Russia wasn't going to stand for it, particularly when most of Georgia's military forces were in Iraq and most of Russia's military forces were across Georgia's border. Almost every media report from Russia's ITAR-TASS makes prominent mention of Georgia's "blitzkrieg" on South Ossetia, and almost every media report from Western news sources conveniently glosses over that fact. If reconciliation is possible, American and European leaders are going to have to come to terms with the fact that the country with pending NATO membership is being led by a reckless idiot who will in all likelihood do more harm to NATO than good.
- Apparently Condoleeza Rice has become our de-facto new president. Every new statement by Putin, Medvedev, or other Russian authorities is always met by comments from Condoleeza Rice, not from President Bush. I think he's on vacation in Crawford, TX (I really couldn't say for sure), so that could be the reason for this sudden conspicuousness of the Secretary of State. It really doesn't matter though, just because the same Bush administration empty threats we usually hear from the president are now coming out of the mouth of the Secretary of State. U.S. diplomacy: everything stays on the table (except nuance).
- European ethnic groups are crazy. It's really easy for both sides to claim genocide based on ethnic cleansing because all these nations are founded on ethnic lines. Ethnic Georgians are killing ethnic Ossetians, while ethnic Russians are murdering ethnic Georgians, but since the Republic of Georgia was killing soldiers in the breakaway state of South Ossetia, and the Russian Federation killed people in the Republic of Georgia, it's hard to tell which actions are based on ethnic cleansing and which actions are based on strategic military missions.
- There is so much world news to comprehend, what with the Georgia thing, the deadliest case of civilian casualties by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, riots in Thailand, the breakup of Pakistan's coalition government and the revelation that Asif Ali Zardari is a nutjob, that it's simply astounding that 75% of our nations press corps is reporting and analyzing pre-scripted meaningless political drivel.