Mon Aug 18, 2008
No peace can I find.
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind.
It’s not like I really wanted to spend the weekend thinking about last week’s small war between Russia and the Caucasian republic of Georgia – not when I could have been watching women’s beach volleyball at the Olympics instead.
But ever since the obscure dispute over the breakaway province of South Ossetia suddenly flared into a good old fashioned Cold War crisis (putting the US – or at least John McCain – toe-to-toe with the Russkies) I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how America found itself obligated to defend the security and territorial integrity of a place name most Americans probably associate with peach trees and Scarlett O’Hara.
I’m no foreign policy maven, but I’m also not completely oblivious to what our government has been up to in the Caucasus (unlike, say, about 99.99% of the rest of the American population). I knew the Cheney Administration had taken a shine to Michael Saakashvili, the purportedly democratic, allegedly peaceloving president of Georgia, and I knew the Cheneyites were also big supporters of his demands for a Russian withdrawal from those bits of territory that rejected Georgian authority when the old USSR broke up in 1991. I also knew the administration has been trying, both overtly and covertly, to break the Russian stranglehold on the export of oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea basin (democratic freedom and access to petrocarbons being fairly synonymous terms in the American diplomatic dictionary).