Sorry, China. We’re watching Russia now…and not in gymnastics.

It has to be at least a mild annoyance to China that with all the money and effort put into the tour de force of the Olympics, the headline stories of golds, silvers and Tiananmen demonstrations have been robbed by Russia and the Georgian insurgence of South Osettia.

Late Thursday, Georgia militarily invaded the region, informally declared independent in 1992 (Kosovo Stylze), in effort to reclaim breakaway regions. The response from Russia and neighboring region Abkhazia has forced Georgia to declare a cease fire (which has yet to be honoured by Mother “I’ll teach you a lesson” Russia who continues to invade and attack). Despite South Osettia’s paltry size (roughly 75,000 and the size of Rhode Island) the geopolitical importance of Georgia provides an open invitation for US involvement, who along with Britain and a few other security council members have thrown their support behind the “gate-way to Caspian Oil” (known to everyone else as Georgia).

So, its a multifaceted issue- Georgia’s delusional power issues and territorial analism, Russia showing everyone how strong they are and the US not allowing the Russian intervention to “go unanswered”. And of course the geopolitical (economical?) significance of it all.

The key issue is sovereignty. In specific, territorial vs. demographic.

South Ossetia lies directly in Georgia bordering Russia (and northern Ossetia). CLEARLY in the Georgian territory and divided between two Georgian districts. As a Canadian who has grown up hearing the plight of Quebec READ: pedantry whining, I understand the desire to unify a territorial region. However, border lines do not seem to be enough to establish sovereignty within this region.

In a past census 45,000 in the region claimed to be ethnic Ossetian. As of a 2008 census 70% claim to be Russian, most holding Russian passports and not aligned with Georgian politics, culture or economics at all (they use Russian currency). Therefore, South Ossetian separatists believe that their independence from Georgia is self evident and should be internationally recognized.

Conflicts like these are almost impossible to resolve because it requires at least one party to relinquish their perception of “sovereignty”. So actual resolution seems impossible since, generally, things that are acquired through violence can only be held by violence (Ghandi’s words-not mine).

Additionally, the conflict represents larger contentions between Russia and the US. The US is trying to grant Georgia’s wish for western integration by attempting to work them into NATO (in the interest of Caspian oil- not their 27,000 military personnel, I assume). Russia is playing the game of power politics by escalating military insurgencies throughout the country despite the Georgian declared ceasefire, which I will also assume has little to do with the well being of 75,000 Ossetians and more to do with wanting the West to keep out of their hood.

Its silly. Its a silly conflict over a small piece of land that contains a smaller population than a small town. But this conflict will set a dangerous precedent.

Russia is clearly not ready to back down. It has been burning with anticipation for some time to flex some post-imperialist hubris and US vice president Dick Cheney recently declared that Russian aggression will not go “unanswered”. With the US illegally invading Iraq READ: basically doing the same thing, it will be interesting to see in the coming weeks how high the threshold will be before they become more involved and what that will look like.

Until then, I will watch gymnastics.


About Ashley Drake
Don't cha wish your girlfriend could blog like me

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