Meh Culpa

Let’s play pretend

President Mikheil Saakashvili has been taking Sarah Palin’s opinions too seriously. He has written an op-ed column for the WSJ claiming that Georgia was simply defending against Russian aggression this past summer.

The question is, rather: What democratic polity would have acted any differently while its citizens were being slaughtered as its sovereign territory was being invaded? South Ossetia and Abkhazia are internationally recognized as part of Georgia, and even some areas within these conflict zones were under Georgian government control before the Russian invasion. We fought to repel a foreign invasion.

Just for drill, here’s a timeline of the region’s history, going back to 1801.

While South Ossetia declared its intention to secede from Georgia in 1990 by holding a referendum–as Georgia declared its independence from the USSR in 1991–Ossetians have been at loggerheads with Georgia at least since the 1920’s.  Saakashvili pretends that Russia ignored Georgia’s sovereignty, although the case can be made that the Georgian president did the same to South Ossetians by refusing to allow its people the autonomy they’ve long wanted.

Aside from Russia no one in the international community has acknowledged South Ossetia’s claim of independence, but perhaps that has more to do with a fear of Russian hegemony than about supporting a people’s right to form their own government. Besides,  if you’re going to refuse Russian incursion anywhere, it should be in Abkhazia which lies next to the Black Sea and would provide a window on the West (a la Peter the Great).  South Ossetia would ordinarily prove less important because, even though the Roki Tunnel provides the only transportation across the Caucasus Mountains to the Black Sea, Russia doesn’t need to use the tunnel to get there.  It only needed the Roki Tunnel for its attack on Georgia. On the other hand,  if Iran were otherwise successfully blockaded as a sanction for developing a nuclear arsenal (that it may not be developing in any case), the Muslim country could ship its oil on the Caspian Sea (yes, there it is!) and transport it over the mountains to the Black Sea via the Roki Tunnel provided Russia had possession of the Tunnel.

Let’s pretend then, shall we, that the USA and Europe don’t like the idea of Russia with its petrodollars(!!) helping Iran move oil because controlling the Roki Tunnel and keeping Iran from selling its black gold anywhere in the world–should Ayatollah Khamenei decide nuclear weapons aren’t against his religion after all–is way more fun.  You could say the Roki Tunnel serves a strategic interest for the US.  It would also explain why the Georgians didn’t blow up the tunnel as the Russians advanced.  (The other explanation: Imagine how ticked off Putin would be!)  Using the Roki Tunnel rationale  doesn’t really work in that way, though.   At stake, according to Global Research, are Anglo-American oil companies’ interests in safeguarding methods of transporting energy through the region–and Georgia seems to be receiving NATO  aid and training in a quid pro quo as a stand-in for us.

Personally, I’m not at all pleased with the idea that the USA would play up the notion of sovereignty for Georgia, which we  supported for independence , without doing the same for the people of South Ossetia.  I suppose it’s what you’d call Selective Democracy;  we get to pick and choose who’s free.  For  oil, again.

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December 4, 2008 Posted by | appointments, Bush administration, civil liberties, Energy, Foreign policy, Georgia, Iran, oil, politics, Russia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment