Whew. What a lot of hubbub in the Caucasus!  And the whirlwind amongst the geopolitical blowhards who are trying to figure it all out is such that it’s disturbing local weather patterns.  You know the scene:  a butterfly flaps its wings in the Caucasus, and spawns a tornado a half a world away.  What is becoming clear is that Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili (Misha to his friends) acted recklessly in the 7 August shelling of the South Ossetian capitol, Tskhinvali, theoretically in response to Russian troops moving through the Roki tunnel from North to South Ossetia and otherwise raising a ruckus.  He was reckless, but his recklessness was not a function of excess aggressiveness, it was because he fell into a Russian trap.  Russia had been conducting flyovers of the region, staged massive military maneuvers on the border and otherwise rattled sabers. That they could switch from “peacekeeping” to “ousting the aggressor” at the drop of a shapka ushanka (hat) is just too convenient for anyone to not be at least tempted to cry wolf (mixed metaphors, anyone?). Just like in Chechnya, only this time the Russians said they were doing just what Georgia said it was doing this time: restoring order within a sovereign state. Continue reading

sound bites

          “The aggressor has been punished” said Russian President Dimitri Medvedev of his decision to stop bombing Georgia.  It’s a statement which could have been uttered by any number of leaders, and once in a while it’s even true, though in this world it is aggression which is usually rewarded, while no good deed goes unpunished.  The veracity of the statement in any case, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.  But if the reports are true that Russian forces were deliberately trying to terrorize the civilian population inside and outside the breakaway regions of South Continue reading