Monday, August 11, 2008
Ghosts of Kosovo in the Caucasus
Russia has claimed that its mandate from the 1992 Sochi agreement to "keep the peace" gives it the right to take whatever measures are necessary to secure South Ossetia. But this can be interpreted to mean that Russia has the right to strike targets in Georgia proper on the grounds that Georgia's warfighting abilities must be degraded--similar to the NATO rationale in 1999 for hitting targets in Serbia itself, not just Serbian units in Kosovo.
Russia is also utilizing the "loss of sovereignty" argument that was advanced against Serbia in 1999--that Georgia's attack on South Ossetia which seemed to target civilians has produced such a negative reaction among Ossetians who claim they can no longer live under Georgian rule. So, the argument is that Tbilisi has forfeited its right to exercise sovereignty over South Ossetia just as Serbia supposedly lost its sovereign rights over Kosovo.
And whether the West, and particularly the U.S., buys this or not is no longer the issue. Moscow doesn't seem to care whether we accept these comparisons, just as we didn't care about Moscow's opinion on Kosovo final status. We can either try to fight it--which we don't seem to want to do--or we will have to accept it de facto--which is where things seem to be headed, at least given the tenor of the French peace mission, which wants a restoration of the August 6 status quo--which for all intents and purposes is a Russian victory and a Georgian defeat.
A final and sobering note of comparison. The 1999 Kosovo war soured U.S.-Russia relations and prevented cooperation that might have nipped Al-Qaeda in the bud in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. The Ossetian war today is going to torpedo any effort to restart the U.S.-Russia partnership--and what consequences might result?
Russia will also advance her interests in Ukraine; getting ready for the violent breakup of Ukranine.
We condemned the Russians when they brutally repressed an insurrection in the breakaway province of Chechenya. Now we are defending another country which was trying to suppress two independence movements in its country.
The Bush administration has no credibility. Backing Kosovo's claim for independence while denying the Serbians of Bosia the same. The admission of the Baltic states and the failed attempt to bring Georgia into NATO while failing to find a new, Russian-neutral mission for NATO. Missile defense promised for Eastern Europe.
I can't blame the Russians if they believe we are out to get them.
A voice from the past provides a glimpse of the near future.
Pretty clear to me that the cowboy mentality has been usurped by the "old European" ways of politics and diplomacy. In short, it is obvious to the entire world that Putin is still a Master at his game, especially in his own back yard.
"Let the games begin"/Checkmate.
Kosovo was never worth anything to Russia beyond the US-EU involvement against Serbia. There is no way that Russia will abandon Iran, not now and not ever - the existence of a sovereign and non-aligned (against US-EU) is absolutely essential to the security of the Russian State.