Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Beyond the fortress walls

Returning from holiday, it seemed the clock had been turned back not just an hour, but years.

The most immediately useful piece of background analysis I read was by James Traub in yesterday’s IHT, all the better for my tired eyes for being printed in columns on newsprint.

Information Dissemination was very helpful in understanding the military detail, despite its navy focus, and it linked to other sources of military information. Starting with Outbreak, through several posts up to the most recent Russia’s Divide and Conquer Strategy. The above map comes from this post on Information Dissemination, a follow up to this map post.

Marko Attila Hoare put the issue of South Ossetia in perspective compared to Kosovo.

The New Centrist has a clearly written and principled view here. Flesh is Grass tries to dig deeper. Oliver Kamm points to a column by David Clark, who writes “complexity is no excuse for abdicating moral judgement.” In another post Oliver Kamm focuses on the earlier rejection of Georgia from Nato. He writes:
The value of Nato is not only in providing for our collective security. The alliance is also a way of cementing liberal tendencies in emerging states and regions. (Likewise, the European Union, which is the single most important reason - far more than any economic grounds - for my support for wider European integration.) It would be wrong for Western governments to infer from Russian aggression that they should be cautious about expanding Nato membership.
Georgia has been left shut out beyond the fortress walls, easy prey for a Russian leadership which has repeatedly shown its disdain for democracy and the rule of law. While this is bad for Georgia, it’s also bad for the Ukraine, bad for any country on Russia’s borders that wants to steer a more democratic and progressive course, and bad for everyone else as well, including the population of Russia, living with an unaccountable leadership who seem intent on using the nation’s resources to steer a course back to the time of the Tsars, rather than forward to an open society. Ultimately their course can only lead to even greater stagnation and degeneration for Russia. 

UPDATES: Of course for some it is in Georgia, as it is everywhere, as it ever was, and ever will be, all about America. It must be such a comfort to live such a simple life. More reports of simple thinking here, including accounts of some wishing to portray Russia as the underdog, because one should always support the underdog. I-di-ots. (Via Terry Glavin.) See also Bob from Brockley: Rogue states and police states - and their defenders.

More seriously, here’s James Traub again, answering questions from New York Times readers with clarity and precision.

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